Fauna Foundation Dr. Mary Lee Jensvold with Chimpanzee Tatu

An Ethos of Compassionate Care for Chimpanzees

Sanctuary life is an institutional life, no matter how you slice it. Residents are robbed of an independent self-reliant life; instead, they depend upon their caregivers to provide for their needs. The Fauna residents have all suffered some type of exploitation in the past.  They wouldn’t be here if they had lived ideal lives. For the chimpanzees and monkeys, that ideal life would be in the jungle or savannas of Africa or Asia.

As caregivers, staff, or volunteers at Fauna, we are part of their life experience. We choose our reaction to the Fauna residents and the attitude we carry in our activities at Fauna. We can pity them, feel sorry for them, and bring our sadness into their days.  Or we can isolate ourselves emotionally so we think only about getting through our job. Or we can be positive and uplifting. From the perspective of the residents, let’s think about what each of those brings to their day.

Imagine you are in an institutional setting such as a hospital, instead of a sanctuary. A hospital visit is usually based on unpleasant circumstances. You are trapped and completely reliant on three nurses for all your needs. Nurse Pricilla feels very sad and sorry that your circumstances have brought you to the hospital.  Each day she greets you with sympathy, reminding you of your miserable situation. With Pricilla there is no way to move past your own misery.  Nurse Sherry is emotionally detached and hates her job and communicates this in her nonverbal behavior, and attitude. She goes hurriedly through her tasks without smiling, while slamming things. Nurse Sherry can’t wait until her shift ends. You can’t wait either. In contrast Nurse Barry loves his job. He discusses the day with you as he greets you at the beginning of his shift. He smiles, he’s cheerful and he really cares about his patients. The experience with Barry is so pleasant, it’s almost worth it to be in the hospital to have experienced his care.   Barry doesn’t feel sorry for you, he helps you through the day making every moment as good as it can be.

We ask all our staff, volunteers, and interns, to “be a Barry” and carry a positive cheerful spirit for the Fauna residents.

On October 4th, you can support Fauna’s commitment to compassionate care for chimpanzees by making a donation for Great Apes Giving Day! To find out more about this special day of giving visit our #GreatApesGivingDay page.