Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Wild Thing

You Wild is an initiative from Defenders of Wildlife to raise awareness about endangered species and about our connection to all wildlife.

It is also really, really fun. You can upload your photo and morph it with an animal of your choice. I couldn't find a photo of my current face, but I did find a baby picture. If you click on the link above, you'll see what a great looking chimp I was.

I've had a soft spot for chimps ever since I took a group of teens for a week of service to the captive chimp sanctuary in Alamogordo, New Mexico four years ago. At the time, it was the largest captive chimp sanctuary in the world, home to over 250 abused and ailing chimps who had been used for experiments by US pharmaceutical labs and military.

Now renamed Save the Chimps, the organization's goal is to build families out of chimps who have lived most of their lives indoors in isolation and then relocate them from what is a fairly harsh environment in New Mexico (a former experimental laboratory that looks like a maximum security prison) to a better place: a group of islands in Florida.

I worked with the group for two years, organizing two week-long service projects with my own students, and the school where I work continued to send volunteers down for two more years, Sadly, this year, we didn't send a group, but the work at relocating the chimps continues and is very successful.

I learned a lot about chimps through the volunteer work there--and I also met some amazing people who see as much value (or possibly more value) in chimps' lives as they do in humans' lives. It was humbling to be around such selfless people who are absolutely devoted to helping creatures who are helpless and in great pain.

Even if you don't think you could ever be interested in chimps, I recommend you take a look at Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees by Roger Fouts. It is an amazing story and a great read. The cross-species communication will make you think.

1 comment:

Bridget said...

Great post!

And I must say, you are quite a looker ... :-)