A Meaningful Month: September at Fauna

September marks a meaningful month here at Fauna for two very important reasons. First, September 12th was the date the first group of chimpanzees arrived at Fauna. Annie, Rachel, Regis, Jethro, Binky, Petra and Chance arrived in Quebec in 1997. Secondly, September is Chance’s birthday month! That first group of chimpanzees to call Fauna their home were a troubled bunch, but their story is one of resilience and healing. So let’s start at the beginning!

Difficult Beginnings

When the chimpanzees first arrived they were traumatized after years of living at the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP). These particular chimpanzees were considered the “lucky” ones. They weren’t going to the Coulston Foundation, a notoriously horrible laboratory in New Mexico. Instead they were coming to Fauna, they were finally coming to sanctuary where their needs would be a priority.

When the group first arrived, it was chaos. All the chimpanzees had their own trauma to deal with. But for this particular group, it wasn’t easy. After years of suffering, it can be hard to move on. Healing isn’t always easy. It takes work and time, lots and lots of time. So, in honor of Chance’s September 13th birthday, let us tell you her story of resilience!

A New Life for Chance

Chance was born on September 13th, 1983 at LEMSIP. For the first 5 years of her life she lived completely alone in a very small baboon cage in the laboratory. For many years she didn’t even have other chimps in her unit to look at or communicate with. There is no way we could ever imagine what that life must have been like, nor the damage done to her body and soul. She was so deprived and her spirit destroyed. She was distrustful, suspicious, very shy and so terribly scared. Chance was 15 years old when she arrived at Fauna in 1997 with that first group of chimpanzees. However, once she found life in sanctuary, she was essentially reborn. Although she has made a new life for herself here at Fauna, she isn’t without some lingering emotional scars. Our responsibility is to help Chance overcome some of her fears, forget her past and help her heal.

Another Rebirth

This year Chance turns 37 and 23 years later and a lot has changed. Chimpanzees have left us but the story of healing and resilience continues. Chance has formed new relationships with her chimpanzee family, as well as her human family here at Fauna. In the year since Petra passed away, Chance has truly come into her own. Sometimes, it takes the loss of one, to illuminate the shine of another and this was the case for Chance. For years Chance kept a blue shoe with her all the times, like a security blanket. Today, Chance has left her shoe behind and has the confidence and trust to invest in friendship. She is frequently one of the first chimpanzees to greet caregivers in the morning, sometimes with an adorable little head bob other times with her notorious lip smacking sound. She spends more time in the front rooms watching the action. We also more often find her in grooming sessions with her chimpanzee friends and even in very tame tickle and chase games. She spends most of her days grooming, playing, resting, and relaxing with Jethro, Regis, Rachel, and of course all the caregivers. Watch Chance in the follow the leader game. She’s the leader! This amazing chimpanzee has come a long way from her solitary days at LEMSIP to having dear human and chimpanzee friends at Fauna. Please consider adopting Chance.

Although the start of the lives of the Fauna residents was awful to say the least, their new home gave them a place to finally heal. To heal from the scars left from years of abuse and exploitation and to learn how to be a chimpanzee again. After all, isn’t that what sanctuary is all about?

Please consider helping to fund the continued care of Chance and her friends!

Give Chance a Birthday Present