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The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A True Story of Resilience and Recoveryby Andrew Westoll
Synopses & Reviews
An absorbing, bighearted book that grapples with questions of just what we owe our closest cousins in the animal kingdom
Fourteen years ago, a special family of chimpanzees were rescued from a research lab and sent to a rural sanctuary where they could be cared for and loved. For the indomitable Gloria Grow, looking after thirteen great apes is like presiding over a maximum security prison, a Zen sanctuary, an old folks home, and a New York deli during the lunchtime rush. But she is first and foremost creating a refuge for her troubled charges, a place where they can recover and begin to trust humans again.
Hoping to win some of this trust, journalist Andrew Westoll spent months at Fauna Sanctuary as a volunteer caregiver. Here he vividly recounts his adventures in the chimphouse and the heart-wrenching histories of its residents. He arrives with dreams of striking up an immediate friendship with the legendary Tom, a father figure to the rest of the chimps and Glorias greatest teacher. Instead, Tom haunts Westolls dreams. Gradually, though, the rest of the “troop” warm toward Westoll. He befriends Binky, the resident practical joker; Sue Ellen, whose favorite fashion accessory is a beaded necklace; and Chance, who picks the hot peppers off her pizza.
Through Westolls eyes, we witness the chimps remarkable recovery firsthand. Simple things like establishing friendships, nurturing alliances, grooming one another, and playing games of tickle-chase are all poignant testament to the capacity of these animals to heal—and to learn how to be chimps again.
"Former primatologist Westoll (The Riverbones) investigates the psychological and physical trauma endured by chimpanzees used in biomedical research labs. Going on hiatus from his job as a journalist, he cares for the chimps at their new home — the Fauna Sanctuary, a Quebec refuge for animals. He cooks for them, plays with them, and learns their horror stories: in the name of science, Sue Ellen's teeth were knocked out with a hammer; Chance spent the first five years of her life in isolation; Tom was repeatedly injected with strains of HIV for 30 years and was knocked unconscious more than 369 times. A distressing, deeply important exposÃ© of the suffering we have inflicted on our closest animal relation, the ethics of animal testing, and finally (and happily) a heartening picture of Fauna Sanctuary's commitment and compassion. Photos. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book News Annotation:
Chimpanzees, the primate closest to humans, are used and abused in biotech and other facilities for drug testing, and as such, injected with HIV and other equally as deadly or harmful practices. This story is about the rescue of 13 traumatized chimps by Gloria Grow from the horrid conditions of a medical research facility. Author Westoll (journalist and primatologist), volunteered at the Fauna Sanctuary where Grow had brought them to recover and learn to trust humans again. In the ensuing months, Westoll develops a relationship with the chimps, who have names, personalities and other human characteristics. He leaves forever touched by this experience and encourages readers to spread the word, donate money to the Fauna Sanctuary and write letters to their representatives to stop inhumane treatment of these delightful and loving creatures. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This is a fascinating and moving account of a remarkable community of chimpanzees who gradually learn to become chimps again after spending years in research laboratories. Brimming with empathy and touching stories, this book makes us question just what we owe to the animals who are our nearest genetic relations.
“Astonishing . . . Moving.” —People
“The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary is an unflinching, visceral look at the emotional and physical damage—actual, real damage done to specific, individual apes—in some of Americas most notorious biomedical research labs. It is also the story of humans who were driven to provide them with refuge, retirement . . . and, ultimately, their inherent right to dignity.” —Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants
IN THE CANADIAN WILDERNESS, Gloria Grow has created a rehabilitation center like none other. Thirteen chimpanzees, rescued from zoos and medical testing laboratories, now call Fauna Sanctuary home. After decades of cruelty and deprivation, these resilient primates are finally free to eat, sleep, play, and roam in peace—all while fighting their personal demons. Primatologist and author Andrew Westoll lived and worked at Fauna one remarkable summer, and The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary is his poignant testimony to the capacity of these animals to heal—and to learn to be chimps again. This is an absorbing, bighearted story about the species more closely related to us than any other.
“There is plenty of moral outrage in this book, but there is also plenty of wonder . . . Impassioned and well reasoned.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer
“This book will make you think deeply about our relationship with great apes. It amazed me to discover the behaviors and feelings of the chimpanzees.”—Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation
“This book is a wonder. Passionate, intelligent, moving, and above all, tremendously important, it illustrates the triumph of the wild spirit and offers surprising hope that the human animal might yet be redeemed. Think of Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation and J. M. Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals, and you’ll have some idea of what it is you hold in your hands. It has been a long time since any author has inspired me to such extremes of compassion and humility.”—Barbara Gowdy, author of The White Bone
About the Author
ANDREW WESTOLL is an award-winning narrative journalist and is the author of The Riverbones, a travel memoir set in the jungles of Suriname, where he once lived as a monkey researcher.
Table of Contents
Chimphouse Floor Plan xi
1. Full-Moon Week 1
2. Zihuatanejo, Quebec 15
3. Our Disquieting Doubles 35
4. Blueprints of a Dream 51
5. The Cage Hospital 65
6. Toby and the Hoodlums 82
7. Operation Cucarachas 115
8. Tales from the Campfi re 129
9. The Pressure Washer 145
10. Inner Sanctuary 171
11. War Memorials 193
12. The Haunted 224
13. The End of an Era 248
How You Can Help the Chimps 263
Further Reading 265
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