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of Survival By Frank Noelker
These portraits are of chimpanzees
retired from biomedical research, the entertainment industry, and
the pet trade. These individuals now
live at the Fauna Foundation
sanctuary in Montreal, Canada and the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida.
Both facilities are committed to issues of animal welfare and enlightenment.
They provide safe asylum for the chimps, most of whom have endured years of isolation
in metal cages measuring 5’ by 5’ by 7’ in laboratories where
they were subjected to invasive surgeries and infectious diseases research. In
contrast, the sanctuaries offer the chimps a chance to live out their days in
relative peace and comfort. Frank Noelker is an associate professor of art at the University of Connecticut
and a concerned photographer whose portraits of animals reveal their tragic histories
as well as their inner beauty [see interview
in Satya’s June/July 2004
issue]. For more information about these chimpanzee sanctuaries please visit
www.faunafoundation.org and www.prime-apes.org.
Date of birth: December 28, 1988
Regis was only two when he was treated for his first stress-related
event—he chewed his fingernail completely off. The following
year he was treated for depression and anorexia (he weighed less
than 20 pounds at three years of age). During the three studies
he was involved in, he was lethargic, withdrawn and depressed.
He refused to eat and drink. When he is particularly stressed he
suffers from anxiety attacks during which he nearly stops breathing
so badly, he gags and convulses. It took over an hour for this
very stressed, very anxious chimpanzee to leave his transport cage
and enter his sanctuary home.
Date of birth: November 30, 1982
Before Rachel was deposited at LEMSIP she lived as a pet in Florida
where she was treated as a human child, dressed in clothes and
given bubble baths. When she was three years old, her ‘nanny’ brought
her to the lab. She spent the next 11 years living in isolation
as a research subject. During this time she was anesthetized 235
times, 147 of these by dart. She endured 39 punch liver biopsies
as a subject of Hepatitis research and underwent surgery for the
testing of new artificial sweeteners for NutraSweet. She fell into
an extended period of depression and was treated repeatedly for
rashes and sores on her neck and wrists inflicted on herself during
anxiety attacks. She also suffers from the ‘phantom hand’ syndrome,
which has caused her to bite all of her nails to the quick, rubbing
them until there is nothing left.
Date of Birth: 1980
Center for Great Apes
Roger was born in a roadside zoo where he was pulled from his mother
in his first year and sold to a family in Connecticut. When he
was three the family sold him to circus trainers who traveled with
Ringling Brothers Circus. He stayed in that situation until his
handler died in 1993 at which time he was sold to another roadside
zoo. There he was placed in the same cage with an adult male orangutan
with only a chain link fence to separate them. At some point Roger
was castrated. When he was eventually rescued there were considerable
problems opening his cage since the lock and even the door had
corroded shut. It had been at least three years since he had been
allowed out of his cage.
Date of Birth: Approximately 1974
Center for Great Apes
Toddy was born in Africa. She was captured in the wild and sold
to a family in Florida as a pet. But when she was still an infant,
veterinarians discovered she had bullet fragments lodged in her
brain. This most likely occurred when her mother was shot so Toddy
could be taken. As Toddy grew up, she was passed along from pet
owner to a roadside zoo and then to a breeding farm. After several
years living with a group of chimpanzees, she was separated due
to health problems and kept alone in a small cage for four years.
Her only companions were her caregiver at the breeder’s farm
and a stuffed toy gorilla that she carried with her at all times.