Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Where Do Great Ape Stars Retire?

Mom is always telling me that people keep the strangest animals as pets. Stranger than a pug? Yep, even stranger than a pug. Just last week a chimpanzee was killed when he tore off the face of his owner's friend. The owner did not have a permit to keep exotic animals and something like this was just bound to happen. Chimpanzees are wild animals and should not be kept at pets. They grow up to be big strong animals whose owners can no longer handle them. What happens to these animals when they have outgrown their welcome? Luckily, there is a place in Florida where they can live out the rest of their life in the company of other apes.

The Center for Great Apes is located on over 100 acres in south central Florida. Here chimpanzees and organutans that were either once kept as pets or were Hollywood stars live and play in one of twelve large three story enclosures. According to their website, the mission of the Center "is to provide a permanent sanctuary for organutans and chimpanzees who have been retired from the entertainment industry, from research, or who are not longer wanted as pets. The Center provides care with dignity in a safe, healthy, and enriching environment for great apes in need of lifetime care." Lifetime care for each animal is very expensive, around $15,000 per ape per year. The Center relies on grants and donations, though it is not open to the general public. Private donors events allow donors access to the facility and donors who dig deep in their pockets can even stay at the Center in one of three rustic cabins. Since the Center does not have a research component, the apes are free to spend their days living as apes.

So who lives at the Center? You may remember Bam Bam the organutan from the soap opera Passions. He arrived at the Center when he became too strong to work. Chuckie is a hybrid Bornean and Sumatran organutan who was born at the Memphis Zoo. Because he was a hybrid he was sold and eventually ended up in the circus. Geri the organutan worked on films like The Flinstones and Dunston Checks In. Kodua the chimpanzee was in the first CareerBuilder.com tv ads. Mowgli the chimpanzee was also in the first Careerbuilder.com tv ads, was a regular on the Dennis Miller Show, and was featured in the movie Shaggy Dog.

The Center has taken in over 42 apes since its inception in 1993. Director Patti Ragan, who volunteerd with organutans in Miami and Borneo, saw a need for the Center after realizing that zoos would not care for orphaned and abandoned apes. Since these apes could not be released in the wild, she committed herself to creating the Center where the apes could live out their lives.

I wish I could visit the apes at the Center, but since it is not open to the public (and that means pugs too), I cannot. Mom told me that she would like to become a donor and that even if she can't visit the apes in person, she knows that her donation will be well spent caring for these amazing animals. Please leave wild animals where they belong - in the wild. They do not make good pets because they are wild. If you would like a pet, consider adopting a pug. We make excellent pets because we are low maintenance. In the meantime, check out the Center for Great Apes at www.centerforgreatapes.org.


Henry the Dog said...

You and your mom are so caring Stubby. My mum loves apes and especially Orangutans. She saw ome at the zoo in Singapore where she went on holiday. She thinks it's sad that they live in zoos but so many now are suffering in the wild due to de-forrestation and poaching. Lots of folk like little Orangutans as pets, they too have no idea how impractical it is. They are enormously strong creatures. It's good to be back. What have you been up to whilst I've been away? It's taking so much time trying to get up to date with my blogging buddies:)

Stubby said...

Henry old buddy! I am so happy that you are finally back. I have just been up to my same old stuff while you were gone - eating and sleeping. My backyard bunnies are back, so I have been hunting for their treats today - yummy!

Mom thinks there is nothing cuter than a baby organutan (except for a baby pug). Animals in zoo provide educational opportunities so that the public can become involved in their plight. Mom's zoo doesn't have organutans (because of space) but they have lots of gorillas and chimps.