fauna foundation

As many of you know, I am privileged to photograph the chimpanzees living at the Fauna Foundation (Visit them at:  http://faunachimps.tumblr.com
This week it is Binky’s 26th birthday, and he has been living in sanctuary since he was rescued from a medical research lab at the age of 8. He is a young, handsome, gregarious, playful, intelligent soul. Full of beans, as they say. I stylized this photo to try to capture him in a classic, dignified “portrait.” Let me know what you think?

Tumblr Tuesday: Monkeys!

Fauna Chimps
The Fauna Foundation is Canada’s only chimpanzee sanctuary and it serves vegan sweet potato poutine to its heartbreakingly sensitive guests. We held and petted a Capuchin monkey this weekend. It reached out its tiny hand and wrapped it around one of our fingers. 

An Unnatural History
Possibly the world’s only collection of vintage monkey and ape photographs, some of which are of Capuchin monkeys, the kind that we held and petted this weekend. We cried three times afterward, moved by the experience itself and dizzy over the fact that our life had led to this. An Unnatural History is definitely Tumblr’s best source for monkeys hanging out with dogs.

Monkeys in Art History
Could this diverse selection of monkey-centric art actually be the work of a single, spectacularly talented primate? We hadn’t considered the possibility until we saw our own reflection in the eyes of a Capuchin monkey this weekend. An ageless wisdom was writ into its expression, and in that moment our two species felt closer than we had ever thought possible. 

Primatography
Photos by a primatologist, which is something you’ll wish you majored in after holding and petting a Capuchin monkey. We majored in Classics and assumed we would live a solitary life of the mind. Children were never a part of this picture…but to hold this fragile life in our hands, we were suddenly filled with a love too big for one heart to contain. Primatography includes special bonus shots of sloths and other mammals. 

Respectez ce Singeot
A whole lot of beautiful monkeys and a little bit of the elusive Werner Herzog. Even now, thinking about that Capuchin monkey has our eyes once again filling with tears. 

Photo by njwight via faunachimps

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Regis fishing for blueberries! #chimpanzee #regis #enrichment #sanctuary #home #faunafoundation (at Fauna Foundation)

Made with Instagram

“Sparks Nevada, you have purchased this domicile with your human currency.  Why do you insist I reside in this structure with you?”

“Because Croach, that’s what folks do.  We find a place to live big enough for everybody you’re wanting to live with, including sometimes folks who may not be born yet. We put down roots.” “I fail to see how planting fauna in the foundation will be beneficial, it may in fact weaken the structural integrity–” “No, Croach not like them roots.  It’s– you know what, forget it.  We gotta get these cabinets painted and put back on before Red shows up.” “Your choice in colors for the wooden containers designated cabinets is questionable, Sparks Nevada.” “It ain’t questionable if you don’t question it.” “I choose to question.” “Uhhhhgh. Croach, look, just paint, all right?” “I am merely suggesting that a contracting color on the trim would make the atmosphere more pleasing to at least six of my visual senses.” “Yeah? Well I’m merely suggesting you shut up.” “Sparks Nevada, the direction in which these cabinet doors close is sideway–  Ummmph.” …. …. “Now that you’re good and shut up, paint.  There’ll be time for talkin’ when Red’s here.  Maybe.  After awhile.”

This is Eugene, a Japanese macaque who has been living in a concrete cell for the past 26 years. This week he was rescued by the great folks at Fauna! (http://faunachimps.tumblr.com) So, now I get to photograph and talk to this peaceful soul as he lives out the last chapter of his life in a big beautiful place with lots of light, access to the outdoors, delicious fresh food choices and good friends. This was taken when we first met and I look forward to many more moments together.

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Fauna Foundation - Arrival of the first HIV chimps by faunafoundation

Fifteen years ago today HIV infected chimps Pablo, Donna Rae, Billy Jo, Sue Ellen and Pepper left their laboratory cages at LEMSIP to make their new home at Fauna. Of the original five, Sue Ellen is still with us today.

Today is a sad day for my friends at Fauna Foundation. One year ago today, a very special soul, Pepper, passed away. I created this image of her on March 12, 2012, the very first day I met the chimps at Fauna. (faunachimps.tumblr) I was overwhelmed and mesmerized by them! Their hands. Their eyes. Their voices! It was an extraordinary experience and one I won’t forget. That first day, when I wasn’t holding my breath, I photographed Spock, Pepper and her best, friend Sue Ellen. I have now been photographing the chimps for 15 months, but this photo, from my very first encounter, is still one of my favorites. Thank you Pepper, for allowing me to see you, and to know you, if only just a little.

Photo © NJ Wight

Tatu signs all the time…she signs to her interpreters,  she signs to Fauna staff, and she signs to the chimps. Not only does she sign, but she is seriously one of the most vocal chimpanzees at Fauna! Her voice rings throughout the chimp house; when she is happy, when she is excited, and when she is communicating with her new neighbours.

Tatu signs “in” to go and see Sue Ellen and the feeling is mutual as Sue Ellen wants to go in with Tatu. She has signed “in” to go join almost all of Fauna’s residents, she spends a lot of time near Spock, Maya and Binky. She has spent time near Toby and Chance, and even Regis and her have had some nice grooming sessions.

Tatu is always visiting and interacting through the bars and through the small holes where they can groom each other. Tatu has met everyone at Fauna and she has asked to go in with everyone. She is very busy each day and she knows who everyone is now and she communicates to them all the time…She is very social and very interested in getting on with her new life.

One of the big questions everyone had about Tatu and Loulis was, what would they do when they saw a trolley filled with fruits and vegetables in front of their room? Would they grab everything, having so many choices? What would they do…

Well, at first they seemed a little concerned about the trolley system, not too sure what they were supposed to do. It was sweet to see. So we would wait and see how they managed. Loulis would stick his hand out of the porthole and gently pick up “an apple” and then leave with his “apple”…unlike the Fauna folks who expect three of everything. Such a gentleman, and so controlled…

Tatu was the same. In fact, she seemed a little surprised that we expected her to serve herself. After all, for years she has been very well served. The trolleys are service, but a different kind…Tatu did eventually reach out and pick an item also, one item, then leave with it.

We were concerned at first that they might not be getting enough to eat, worried they did not grasp the concept and we were thinking they were waiting for someone to come and serve meals. So, we did, just in case. We tried to keep things as similar as possible. However, when we came in during the mornings we would find many items missing from the trolleys, so maybe they were a little suspicious or uncertain…not sure.

Well things have changed a little. Loulis will now arrive at the trolley, look at what is on it and very carefully select two or three items; an apple, a pepper and an orange…or sometimes he will take three apples. He doesn’t eat them all though. We have found them under his blankets in his nest. Saving for the future. 

Tatu still seems to prefer her “staff” bringing her things to choose from, but she too now chooses from the trolleys freely and in front of everyone.

One of the things I have always enjoyed talking about is offering choices…The ability to choose your favourite colour apple, drink, pudding-any colour choices.  For example peppers…red peppers, green, orange and yellow…each chimpanzee at Fauna has a favourite colour pepper. Tatu’s favorite colour pepper? Green.

Gloria

An update from Gloria about Tatu and Loulis! 

The living space occupied by Tatu and Loulis is one of the best locations at Fauna. It was designed with seniors in mind-for Annie and Donna Rae, Pepper and Sue Ellen. Sue Ellen has lived in this part of the chimp house for many years, and she loves it there as well as a few other favorite locations. Right now Tatu and Loulis are living there with a view of all the comings and goings at the chimp house. Deliveries, staff, visitors, contractors, everyone has to pass them and they are so curious they want to see everyone…especially Loulis. Just like Mrs. Cravates on Bewitched, only he is Mr. Cravates. He loves to see who is coming in the building, and he always wants to say hi. He is Mr. Social, and it has been wonderful to see him like that.

Tatu and Loulis are doing remarkably well, they seem to have embraced their new life and are adjusting very well. Great efforts have been made to make sure they have things from home, blankets, favorite items, foods, and human friends. Every effort has been made to help Tatu and Loulis feel welcome in their new home, and feel secure. Friends of Washoe have made the transition so much easier by sending friends and making sure most of their personal belongings came with them. From cups and bowls to blankets and cargo nets…even favorite tires to sit on…Tatu loves to sit on tires, but they were hers…her very own black and red blankets, her own sleeping bags, her red clothes, her favorite cup. Every detail was covered, and that was a blessing, and all of that helped make the move easier.

Tatu and Loulis have friends here every day. They have three people who sign to them, everyday of the week we have at least one interpreter, most days two, and some days three.

Fauna has on staff a friend of theirs from CHCI, our very own Anna, our enrichment co-ordinator. Anna does operant conditioning with all of Faunas family of chimpanzees and she has worked here for almost three years now. We hope she stays forever as Tatu and Loulis do seem to enjoy Anna’s company–and so do we.

Fauna also hopes to hire Kaeley. Kaeley loves Tatu and Loulis and knew them for four years before the move. She will be returning in the spring to do her thesis and we are looking forward to having Kaeley here with us full time.

Dr. Mary Lee Jensvold was here to visit Tatu and Loulis in the fall, she returned about six weeks after the move. It was very special to see how nice her visit went. Loulis was the first one Mary Lee saw, because he is always at the front door, watching so he saw her first…He invited her to a game of chase, was very very happy to see her, and wanted to sit and visit, it was a warm and loving welcome.

Tatu was happy to see Mary Lee too. She greeted her warmly and with great affection for her dear old friend. It seemed to me that everywhere Mary Lee went Tatu and Loulis were following. They were listening to her every word and that was very interesting. On one day, Mary Lee went out for a little walk along the skywalk, just under Tatu and Loulis…they walked together the three of them all the way to the pond to watch the Canada Geese landing. It was a special time indeed for all three. Tatu and Lou up high in the skywalk, Mary lee on the ground below, strolling along.

A lot of people have wondered why they came to Canada? Well, we had space and we were able to provide a new home immediately. All of us would have been relieved for sure if Tatu and Loulis could have stayed in America, but think of it this way…lots more holidays to celebrate. Now they get two Thanksgivings, they get July 4th and July 1st (Canada Day) and so many more great days to celebrate. Tatu loves parties and so do all of Fauna’s residents.

When Tatu and Loulis left CHCI they got lots of gifts and things to take on their trip with them. Something I found really very nice and thoughtful for Loulis and for us were the Canadian flags that were given to him for his trip. He loves to make night nests and he apparently likes the fabric that flags are made from. So when his first night nest was made here in Canada, he had a large flag in his nest and a small one that he seemed to carry with him to different locations. It was very sweet to see how attached he was to these special gifts he got from friends at home, and how he was to these two flags. These special gifts that meant more than we will ever know, reminders of his friends back home, and something that made the journey with him here to Canada.The flags are still there with him and get washed regularly and returned to him.

There have been questions about Fauna staff learning American Sign Language…we are trying…but it is so hard. Thank goodness for Anna, Meg and Kaeley, they save us all the time. We do have another person at Fauna who knows sign language, her name is Laurence…she learned French sign language, so it is a bit different from ASL…but at least she has the gestures right. It is hard but we are trying. Poor Tatu, she just calls us stupid…but even she is more patient with us now.

So…everyone is settling in and we are thrilled to have Loulis and Tatu with us. We know you are all sending your love and we thank you for that.

Gloria

Tatu signs all the time…she signs to her interpreters, she signs to Fauna staff and she signs to the other chimpanzees. Not only does she sign, but she is seriously one of the most vocal chimpanzees at Fauna! Her voice rings throughout the chimp house. We hear her when she is happy, when she is excited and when she is communicating with her new neighbours.

Tatu signs “in” to go and see Sue Ellen and the feeling is mutual as Sue Ellen wants to go in with Tatu. She has signed “in” to go join almost all of Fauna’s residents. She spends a lot of time near Spock, Maya and Binky. She has spent time near Toby and Chance and even she and Regis have had some nice grooming sessions.

Tatu is always visiting and interacting through the bars and through the small holes where they can groom each other. Tatu has met everyone at Fauna and she has asked to go in with everyone. She is very busy each day and she knows who everyone is now and communicates to them all the time. She is very social and very interested in getting on with her new life!

2014 Fauna Highlight–The Arrival of Eugene

Eugene lived in a glass enclosure in a pet store for 27 years. Through the efforts of Zoocheck and Fauna Foundation, Eugene was rescued in March and brought to his new home in the monkeyhouse and gardens at Fauna. He has been thriving in his new surroundings, enjoying the sunlight and spending time outdoors watching the birds on the pond. You can read about his rescue here.