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!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Largest Chimpanzee Breeding Facility, Connie Casey Braun

At Chimparty Pampered Primates in Jefferson County, Mo., Kayla, a three-month-old chimpanzee, sits dressed in human clothes in a baby’s crib. In the wild, she would live with her family in a pack and range over a 3,000- to 15,000-acre expanse of jungle. Here, she lives alone in a suburban bedroom, leaving only to perform tricks and entertain people.

Kayla is one of the lucky ones. Young and cute, she at least leaves the facility when rented out to birthday parties, county fairs, and nursing homes. She may even follow in the footsteps of other chimps here and be photographed for Hallmark and Walmart gift cards.

Down in the basement, the older chimps are less fortunate. Tanka, a 10-year-old male, sits in total social isolation—he is considered too dangerous to mix with other animals and too ugly to adorn any cards. In another enclosure, other unwanted chimps sit banging their hands against the floor. As guests approach, they repeatedly throw themselves against the Plexiglas windows that enclose them.

Many of these chimps were once Hollywood stars—one performed in George of the Jungle, another was in Speed Racer—and were briefly treated accordingly. Others were bred solely as moneymakers, to be hired for parties and photo shoots. But they share a common ailment: At six to eight years of age, these primates became aggressive and, as such, are no longer wanted as entertainers.

The fate of these castoff chimps is varied. Zoos won’t accept former pets, and most wildlife sanctuaries are now at capacity. (Besides, it costs $15,000 a year to care for a chimp at a sanctuary, a price Chimparty is unwilling to pay.) So the chimps either continue their subterranean existence or are sold into lives of inflicted disease in biomedical research, lives of labor in roadside menageries and exotic animal “attractions,” or lives of exile from nature in the exotic pet trade.

Across America, 15,000 primates serve human masters as exotic pets. Only 20 states prohibit the practice, and there is no federal law against it. Given that primates often live beyond 50 years of age, many of these simian pets will be resold repeatedly, journeying in airplane holds across the country to enter new and unfamiliar homes.

The dangers of this trade are manifest. Chimpanzees are reservoirs of exotic, communicable diseases, from Herpes B to monkey pox and the Marburg virus. They are also five to seven times stronger than a person of equivalent size and can turn aggressive at the slightest provocation.

Two months ago, Travis, a 200-pound, 14-year-old male chimp, broke free from his house in Stamford, Conn., and mauled a woman to near-death. Travis’s owner, Sandy Herold, sought to slay Travis with a butcher’s knife; it took several police bullets to kill him.

Herold was shocked. She recounted that Travis had been socialized: He sat at the dinner table, drank wine, operated the television remote control, and had appeared in television commercials for Old Navy and Coca Cola. Herold had bought Travis from Chimparty Pampered Primates, which prides itself as a supposedly reputable breeder.

Yet, as primatologists pointed out, the attack power of a frustrated wild animal should have come as no surprise. Primatologist Jane Goodall noted, “Chimpanzees evolved in the tropical forests of Africa, and that’s where they’re suited to live, roaming in groups of their own kind. A house in Connecticut was a completely alien environment for a chimp.”

Congress is currently considering a law to end this sordid trade. The Captive Primate Safety Act, approved by the House of Representatives in the wake of Travis’s attack, is now awaiting a vote in the Senate. It would prohibit the interstate transport of primates and should be swiftly approved.

Hollywood and advertising studios can match this move by pledging to find permanent wildlife sanctuary homes for primates that grace the big screen. Circuses and party companies should promise to stop using, and abusing, animals entirely—and consumers should boycott these companies until they do so. And, finally, all states should pass prohibitions on keeping primates as pets.
Chimps belong in the real jungle, not the suburban one.

AKA-Connie Casey Braun
1, Brauns Barn
2. Chimparty
3. Chimpparty - Website
4. Pampered Primates
5,Missouri Primate Foundation
6. Missouri Primate Sanctuary

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