The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Russ Cochran. Pet Chimpanzees


For as long as I can remember, I have had a fascination with the great apes. Gorillas and chimpanzees, mainly... from reading the Tarzan books and seeing the movies, from visiting the St. Louis Zoo once or twice a year... whenever I'd see a gorilla or chimp I'd want to get closer, to get more involved.


One fateful day in 1990 I saw a picture in a newspaper, a picture of a lady surrounded by chimps. It gave her name and her location in Festus, Missouri. I called her and arranged for a visit. When I went to visit, there was a tiny baby boy chimp who had just been born, and I fell in love with him and convinced the lady to sell him to me. We named him Sammy. He came to live with us at the age of 3 months in the spring of 1990, and still lives here with us.

Betcha can't eat just       one

Watching Sammy grow up, going through all the stages from infant to toddler to adolescent, we naturally grew to love him and accept him as a member of the family, although he was certainly one with special needs. Having a chimp is not unlike having a child that is going to be dependent upon its parents for all of its life, one that will never totally "grow up" and become independent.

Sammy needed a companion, so we got Sally, who came to us from California at the age of three days. From infancy up to the onset of puberty (approximately age 7 or 8) Sammy and Sally went everywhere with us, in the car, to the grocery store, on a trip to the river, etc. I even took Sammy to New York City where he became the first chimp to sit through an entire performance of "Les Miserables". We'd smuggle him into our hotel rooms in a tote bag, with his little head sticking out the top. It was a lot of fun.

But when chimps hit puberty, their personalities change, a lot like your teenagers do. When those hormones start to flow, they get more aggressive, more protective of their own family, more intolerant of strangers, more territorial, and because they are so big and strong (Sammy has the strength of at least 3 men), they become dangerous. Given the opportunity and the right situation, they can easily hurt people by biting or hitting. This is when owning a chimp turns from a fun thing into a new area of responsibility. Most chimp owners, faced with this situation, end up getting rid of the chimp by giving him away to whoever will take him, which might be a research lab, a roadside zoo, or some other "bad" situation (from the chimp's point of view).


My wife and I were and are determined that we cannot bear to do this. How could we take Sammy and Sally out of the home they have lived in all their lives, and put them in a cage in a research laboratory or a cage at a zoo? We couldn't. So we still have them. We have spent quite a lot to make them large indoor and outdoor cages, but still we realize that this is not the best possible world for them. What Sammy and Sally need, and thousands of other chimps like them need, is a National Chimp Refuge.

A National Chimp Refuge would be located on an island, off the coast of Florida or Texas, where we have planted thousands of fruit trees and food plots specifically designed to sustain a population of chimps, who are living free in family groups. Protected from predators (including humans), they could live out their lives in a natural friendly environment.

There are more than a thousand chimps living in the United States right now, who were born and bred for one purpose... medical research on AIDS and hepatitis. These sentient beings are born and raised in cages no larger than four feet square, so we can infect them with deadly diseases and try new cures on them. They give their lives to save ours. After their usefulness is ended, we have no place to put them. The National Chimp Refuge would solve this problem. Lab chimps (who are disease-free), retired circus and movie chimps, former pet chimps, would be taken in and cared for by this Refuge.

So, I decided to form a not-for-profit corporation which I called Apes, Inc., to devote my time and energy to making a National Ape Refuge a reality and to improving the lot of all caged apes. The corporation is registered in the state of Missouri and has applied for 501 c(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service, so that any donations to Apes, Inc. Will be tax-deductible. Any funds raised on this website through sales of pictures or t-shirts will go toward this cause."


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