New Book 'Opening Doors' Focuses on the Work of Save the Chimps

jungle gym for chimps
Photo courtesy of Save the Chimps
The sanctuary is spotted with play areas for the chimps.

I'm happy to say Moesha proved me wrong. Now a member of Tapioca's group, one of the loudest, most rambunctious groups, Moesha (along with her BFF Alari) is right in the thick of it, holding her own — even being the cause of trouble sometimes. She is sassy and confident. Physically, it's like she is a different chimpanzee. She is very dark, with thick dark hair, and she's a bit rotund, to tell the truth. The best news of all? She no longer needs any antidepressant medication. The first day Moesha and her group were released onto their island home at Save the Chimps, a miracle happened. Many chimps born in research labs have never set foot on anything but concrete and steel. Grass is totally foreign to them, and a big open space without bars? Forget it. Their world has been a few square feet up until the moment the doors to the island are opened. So the first time they have a chance togo outside and onto the island, they are a little apprehensive. It may take them days, weeks or even years to finally take that first step. Moesha fit that type to a T. So imagine my surprise — and the tears in my eyes — when the first chimpanzee in her group to bravely walk all the way out onto the island and climb up high on a big wooden platform was none other than Moesha. She went out by herself, full of confidence, and pioneered the way for the other chimps in her family to follow her. It was amazing, and it remains one of my favorite moments.

Q. What surprises you the most about the chimpanzees you meet at the sanctuary?

A. I am always surprised by and impressed with their resiliency and their ability to forgive. If I had to endure even a little of what most of these chimps had to endure, I'd be in a psychiatric institution, and I certainly would have little love for the human race. But they have such big hearts — they are able to heal, and they are able to forgive. That's not to say it's OK to mistreat them because they can "take it" or because they can recover. But we can certainly learn a big lesson from them about forgiveness and not judging a whole group of people based on the negative actions of a select few.

Q. What do you hope readers will come away with after reading Opening Doors?

A. I hope that readers will gain not only an appreciation for the incredible work done by Dr. Carole Noon, but also a new awareness of the plight of captive chimpanzees. With an increasing number of chimps in need of sanctuary, we need the public's help — your help — now more than ever. I hope Opening Doors will open your hearts to these wonderful chimpanzees who are counting on all of us to help them.

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