The memory that comes to mind when I think of Annie was of her great beauty, and her wisdom. It was easy to see that she had seen a lot, and knew more than I did about life. When Annie looked at me, she looked into me. Annie had a presence that was undeniable, and all who knew her felt it. Annie was my teacher, and my dear friend. I was humbled around her.
Annie was the second chimpanzee at Fauna to die, only three months after losing Pablo. She passed away January 10th of 2002 and it was such a tragic loss for all who loved her and relied on her. Annie’s life is an example of a “global” story, one shared by many other chimpanzees in research today.
Annie was captured in the wild and bought and sold more than once, shuffled between the entertainment world and private ownership. Eventually, like so many, she ended up in the worst possible place — the Laboratory for Experimental Surgery and Medicine in Primates (LEMSIP).
No matter how kind, loving or sweet a chimpanzee is, once they land in research they endure the same routine and the same methods and procedures as all the others. They are injected with drugs; they experience unimaginable pain; there is no hope of relief and they live in fear for the rest of their life. Imagine if you lived that life?
They live alone missing the family and friends they might have known before and often, they will give up hope or go insane. Imagine? Annie lost everything, especially her freedom and the right to have her family around her.
Annie was one of the many very unfortunate female chimpanzees who were, and still are, used in the laboratory environment as providers of babies to fill the research pipe. Some say to be a “breeder” is an easier fate in a research lab and reserved for some of the kinder chimpanzees. In the labs it is looked upon as part of what is normal and natural for a chimpanzee and often one of the reasons chimpanzee “owners” can feel good about giving up their female chimpanzees. There is nothing positive about it.
People who privately buy and own female chimpanzees almost always have difficulty with their “pets” when they reach sexual maturity. The chimpanzee becomes harder to manage, more aggressive and dangerous and less predictable. Their owners resort to suddenly locking them up, taking away what freedom they have known. They begin to look for options and because many people feel it is a natural and healthy thing for a female chimp to reproduce, they can easily be convinced that any institution that allows the young female to be impregnated and give birth to a baby, is the best possible outcome for them. Years ago this would be a research lab, and if an owner knew that his or her chimpanzee would be in the breeding program, they felt reassured and assumed that the chimps would embrace this natural occurrence. This is how so many of the privately owned chimpanzees ended up at LEMSIP.
Annie did not get pregnant naturally but instead, was one of the first chimpanzees at LEMSIP to be artificially inseminated. They say Annie did not seem to embrace motherhood after her pregnancy. Yet, when she came to Fauna in 1997 she was the most remarkable mother figure to all of the youngsters.
Some speculate that mother chimpanzees in captivity do not care well for their babies, which makes sense if you consider the situation. A mother chimpanzee cannot get out of her cage to get what she needs for herself, so how can she even think about caring for another when she is uncertain of her own fate? Apparently Annie did not care for her baby as they would have hoped and so, she was frequently removed from her to be fed and cared for by the humans. One can only imagine how horrible this was for Annie and for her baby. Each time they took the baby Annie would be put under anesthesia, which would understandably cause terror, anger, and pain. Over and over this happened until the day her baby would be taken from her forever.
It was a woman by the name of Jo Fritz that gave Annie and a number of other chimpanzees to LEMSIP. Afterwards, when Annie had her baby, Wotoni, Jo Fritz stepped back in and took the baby. One might wonder if this was an exchange? “I give you Annie you give me her first born?”
Wotoni would spend many years at The Primate Foundation of Arizona, under the directorship of Jo Fritz. It was considered a “sanctuary environment” and some say the place was nice and the chimpanzees lived a decent life there. The Primate Foundation was created after Annie was already given up but once it was established, Jo never tried to bring Annie and the others back. They were left to their fate in the labs.
On August 5th, 1986 the Primate Foundation closed and its director relieved herself of all responsibility. She relinquished her rights to the 10 chimpanzees, once again sending them to LEMSIP. They would all become research subjects with no plans for them to ever be released. However, Wotoni was not reunited with her mother. She ended up being transferred to another facility.
CH 272 Anne, known as Annie here at Fauna, had only one daughter by artificial insemination. This is a list of Annie’s friends whom she lived with before LEMSIP but never got to live with again. In all those years at LEMSIP they were keeping her apart from her friends, her family…
CH 270 Mitzi.
CH 340 Jackie.
CH 334 Lulu, who had two babies Mave and Arden, but no one is sure where she ended up.
CH 476 Rosie, Mother to our Regis, and his sister Renee born at LEMSIP, who was eventually sent to one of the worst labs in America, Coulston…where she died.
CH 291 Cochise.
CH 319 Humphrey.
CH 439 Termite, who was a castrated young male who died at LEMSIP.
CH 357 Chatter II.
CH 441 Murphy, who is currently in retirement at Chimphaven after being used in HIV research and rescued from a sub-standard sanctuary.
In all the research laboratories across the country, babies are born and mothers are forced to give them up. We look at the records and see some have had one child a year for up to 16 years…each one taken and the family torn apart. Annie had only one baby, but she was a remarkable mother figure to all the young chimpanzees here at Fauna. Annie was a great friend and teacher to all. She was remarkable…like so many of her fellow chimpanzee mothers.
“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.” –Unknown