PPI’s work is always essential
Animal rescue, habitat construction continues because lives depend on it
By Nicole Rivard
COVID-19 has brought the world to its knees, but Primarily Primates work continues to be essential.
At press time Primarily Primates was working with the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance and a fundraising group to rescue three more chimpanzees from a shuttered California sanctuary. As you know, last fall we took in 10 other primates from that sanctuary, including chimpanzees Norma, Selma and Mighty Fine.
If we achieve our fundraising goals, it is a possibility that Jeeter, Cayleb and Jake are coming to PPI, (although it could be three different chimps as there are several that need placement). Jeeter, 31, and another chimpanzee were kept as pets in a Palm Springs home. Cayleb, 18, and Jake, 20, were relinquished by Steve Martin, owner of Working Wildlife, which trains big cats, primates, wolves and other species to be exploited by the entertainment industry.
We have learned that Jeeter is the peacemaker of the troop. Cayleb takes a bit of time to trust but is a big softie once he warms up to care staff. Jake loves stuffed animals and to play chase with his caregivers while he rolls his head around, like he cannot handle the fun. Jeeter also likes to play chase and listen to the radio as well as making big fluffy nests to sleep in.
We know that chimpanzees used in entertainment have been taken away from their mothers almost immediately for training. And often trainers use physical force, fear and domination to train the animals. Not to mention withholding affection and reassurance.
At PPI, the goal is to ensure each animal’s life is filled with a comfortable, secure and stimulating environment and to give them choices to flourish in their own way.
That is why we are particularly excited about a new, very spacious green space unlike any before at PPI that these new chimps will have access to. The $500,000 raised will allow for construction of the green space as well as demolitions, existing bedroom renovations, administrative costs, veterinary care and an endowment to cover long-term care. If we exceed our fundraising goal, there is also a possibility that one or two more groups of chimpanzees from the shuttered sanctuary will find refuge at PPI.
Three existing habitats will connect to the new green space offering expanded opportunities for enrichment, play and exercise. Among them will be swings, climbing structures, and playscapes such as a bouldering wall and musical garden where they can explore.
We will also be removing some very old structures including an orangutan habitat. In its place will be an ape house that can be used as an additional chimpanzee hang out space or for sick or injured animals. An observation area for volunteers and staff will also be included.
The whole area will be called “Rudy’s Great Outdoors” in honor of our late chimp Rudy who succumbed to cancer in 2017. Known as the godfather of chimps at PPI, he was the first to arrive in 1983 after years of being exhibited in a small cage as a circus sideshow attraction. It will be right next to our Primadome, PPI’s very first chimpanzee-centric enrichment enclosure that opened in March 2014.