Chimps greet daylight after 30 years in laboratory
They stopped at the open door. They stared out nervously for a moment. Then they hugged each other in delight and stepped gingerly into the sunlight.
It was the start of a new life for a group of chimpanzees who had been taken from their mothers at birth and taken to a research laboratory in Austria. Each of them had been kept completely alone in a cage, infected with HIV and hepatitis, and then subjected to all manner of experiments. None of them knew anything outside of their individual cages.
In 1997, the company doing the research was sold and the experiments were ended. The chimps were sent to a farm to see if they could be given a new life. But it was difficult. Even being shown patches of grass just confused them; they would pick up the grass, look at it blankly, and throw it away.
But after much patient work, the time finally came. They were ready to go outdoors.
“The chimps are incredibly happy,” their keeper, Renate Foidle, said. “This is amazing. I have been waiting for this moment for so long.”
Here’s a video of the chimps stepping out into the sun. It comes from a German TV station.
The commentary, in German, mentions that the chimps are seeing the sun for the first time in their lives … that after decades of being tested on, these are their first steps in freedom … that the only contact they ever had at the laboratory was with people dressed in what looked like space suits or “hazardous materials” gear … and that they’d never even learned to climb since they were brought in as babies …
… And then “They hugged as if saying ‘we’re finally free’.. and after such a long time, it’s as if they’re saying ‘I can’t believe it!’ to their friends.”
What do you say? Do you think chimpanzees should be kept in captivity for research? Let us know in a comment or on Facebook.
What you can do: The New England Anti-Vivisection Society is one of many organizations working to bring an end to holding chimpanzees in laboratories. You can learn more and support them here.