Language Studies Chimpanzees Transferred to Fauna Sanctuary

Fauna Foundation in Chambly, Quebec, a sanctuary for chimpanzees, most retired from a U.S. laboratory, is pleased to announce two new residents, Tatu and Loulis. As infants, the chimpanzees acquired American Sign Language and continued in sign language studies at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI) at Central Washington University.

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Chambly, QC (PRWEB) September 05, 2013

Fauna Foundation in Chambly, Quebec, a sanctuary for chimpanzees, most retired from a U.S. laboratory, is pleased to announce two new residents, Tatu and Loulis. As infants, the chimpanzees acquired American Sign Language and continued in sign language studies at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI) at Central Washington University.

Tatu and Loulis were accompanied by longtime friend and CHCI director Mary Lee Jensvold, PhD, as well as by a veterinarian.

“We worked hard to make certain that Tatu and Loulis would have what is best for them,” said Dr. Jensvold. “Chimpanzees are highly social and the options Fauna offers them for new chimpanzee – and caring human – relationships is exactly what they needed.”

In November 2012 a third chimpanzee in their group, Dar, died. Friends of Washoe (FOW), a nonprofit dedicated to the welfare of chimpanzees – especially those at CHCI – decided to move the chimpanzees to Fauna to provide them extended chimpanzee friendships for the rest of their lives.

Dr. Jensvold notes that calling Tatu and Loulis “retired” from research is not accurate, however, as CHCI and FOW developed an ethological study model that adhered to ethical standards as strict as comparable human studies. Importantly, the chimpanzees only participated if they wanted and could leave the particular task anytime they chose. Each study was embedded in their natural social relationships with humans, with each other, or in their enrichment and activities.

“FOW hopes the model of sanctuary participating in ethological studies serving chimpanzees will replace their unnecessary confinement in labs being subjected to behavioral research often invasive and disruptive to their well-being,” said Jensvold, who is also FOW’s secretary.

Waiting for Tatu and Loulis at Fauna were human friends they had known at CHCI including Fauna Founder/Director Gloria Grow. Grow’s experience meeting Tatu, Loulis, and Dar at a CHCI internship 17 years ago stirred her commitment to opening the first chimpanzee sanctuary in Canada.

“These are the chimpanzees who made me determined to do everything in my power to work on behalf of all chimpanzees,” said Grow. “As fate would have it, my heart’s desire was fulfilled when I was asked and agreed to rescue 15 chimpanzees from a U.S. lab who had been used in all manners of invasive biomedical research and were living in solitary 5’x5’x7’ cages. Visiting that lab after having been with the chimps at CHCI – the difference between night and day – shocked me.”

Caregivers at Fauna have already learned some sign language in preparation for Tatu and Loulis’ arrival. Fauna chimpanzee Sue Ellen and Tatu are showing enthusiastic interest in a friendship. With time, Fauna will work to make certain Tatu and Loulis find the right “neighborhood” among its chimpanzee groups.

“They’ll decide – the chimps that is – and we will just help them make it happen,” said Grow. “That’s the sanctuary mindset. They tell us what they need. We are there to just help them make it happen.”

To follow the chimpanzees please visit http://www.faunafoundation.org.

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Fauna Foundation, established in 1997, is a nonprofit organization that provides rescue and permanent sanctuary for animals with a primary focus on chimpanzees rescued from research. It is the first and only chimpanzee sanctuary in Canada.


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