A New Life for Angel, Cody, and Sable!January 29th, 2007
After one of the most important and hardest-fought legal battles in ALDF’s history, Cody and Sable are enjoying the loving atmosphere of Save the Chimps in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Established in 1997, Save the Chimps is a non-profit organization that will offer Cody and Sable a comfortable setting among fellow chimpanzees who have been rescued from the space program, laboratory research, and other sources. The environment of Save the Chimps was carefully designed to nurture and stimulate these sensitive and complex primates, providing them with a home in which to socialize, build bonds, play, and rebuild the confidence that has been destroyed by years of physical and emotional abuse. Moreover, they are at long last being treated with the love they deserve, enjoying not only excellent healthcare, but three meals a day of fresh fruits and vegetables, oatmeal or grits in the morning, and a dinner of pasta salad. Coincidentally, Sable’s mother and father also live at the Save the Chimps sanctuary.
Angel, meanwhile, has a new home at the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida. On this beautiful, 100-acre sanctuary, Angel is enjoying a life quite different from her previous sad existence of performing for film and public appearances under the threat of physical punishment. Since 1993, the non-profit Center for Great Apes has been providing long-term care for retired “entertainment chimps,” including Angel’s mother, Daisy, who was rescued from a circus. The chimpanzees and orangutans at the sanctuary are housed in ten large domed enclosures 34 feet high and surrounded by a tropical forest setting of oak, pine, magnolia, sweet gum, willow, bamboo, guava, mango, and banana trees. Angel’s new environment includes a safe outdoor habitat with plenty of swings, toys, and climbing equipment, and she sleeps in an attached heated night house that includes hammocks and ropes and is strong enough to withstand Florida hurricanes.
The chimps’ saga from abuse to asylum began when primatologist Sarah Baeckler spent more than a year collecting information about “trainer” Sid Yost’s business, which was “training” exotic animals to perform specific acts (such as mimicking human behavior) for movies and television. Baeckler was appalled by what she witnessed on a routine basis: Yost and some of his colleagues violently beating chimpanzees in order to force them to perform. Yost denied these allegations, despite the horrors that she witnessed.
“I saw volunteers and trainers hit…Cody on the head with a lock, take a full windup, and punch him in the back, kick him in the head, and hit him with a blunt instrument known as ‘the ugly stick,’” she reported.
After working with Yost as a volunteer from June 2002 until July 2003, Baeckler alerted the Animal Legal Defense Fund of the routine cruelty she witnessed. ALDF attorneys worked for months preparing a complaint against him, and in November 2005, Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Sidney Jay Yost was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, alleging that Yost was violating the Endangered Species Act and the California anti-cruelty statute by subjecting the chimpanzees in his possession to extreme pain and suffering. Now that the suit has been settled, guardianship of the animals has been transferred to Dr. Roger Fouts, a world leader in the field of chimpanzee behavior and communication, who determined which sanctuaries would make the best forever homes for the long-suffering chimpanzees.
Stay tuned for more updates on these beautiful animals—2007 is sure to be a year full of newfound joy and freedom from fear for each one of them.