New Mexico's Pet Resource SPRING 2006


ANIMAL SANCTUARIES

PROJECT SWEET DREAMS:
A Blanket Campaign for New Mexico Chimpanzees
by Debra Rosenman


The soul is the same in all living creatures although the body of each is different. - Hippocrates


Can you imagine chimpanzees who have never touched the earth with their feet or felt the sun on their face? This is a reality for most chimpanzees used for research in biomedical labs. At the same time, primates in their natural habitats are rapidly headed toward extinction in the next decade due to deforestation, the bush meat trade and plain old human greed.

                    Jay Bee takes a siesta

Project Sweet Dreams, a community based Roots and Shoots campaign, was created with the intention of raising awareness about the plight of chimpanzees in our world, including the retired biomedical lab chimps living in New Mexico. Sweet Dreams began February 1st with a blanket drive campaign for the 225 chimps living at Save the Chimps (STC) sanctuary in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Dr. Carole Noon, founder of STC, has dedicated her life to the well being of these remarkable individuals for the rest of their natural lives.

In the wild, chimpanzees use tree branches, leaves and twigs to make their night beds, building new beds each night. Chimpanzees living at STC have the comfort of no less than two freshly laundered blankets each night, used to lie on and under, cuddle with and carry around as “security blankets”.

Save The Chimps rescued chimpanzees from living out their lives behind bars in the infamous Coulston lab. Now they enjoy a daily diet of fresh fruit and vegetables, clean cages and natural light. The changes keep coming…blankets, toys, enrichment activities, and, most importantly, love and respect from all of the caregivers.

STC recounts “At first some of the chimps were afraid of the blankets and toys, but most are thrilled. Jay Bee used to make a nest each night by arranging his meager monkey chow around him in a perfect circle. When he got his first blanket he was so happy it would break your heart. He kept the blanket clean and dry for two days before we had to replace it”.

Chimps use blankets in creative ways – Garfield fancies pulling the babies around on his “magic carpet”. The babies adore this game, rolling off then running to catch up and jump back on.

By joining together the efforts of children, parents, teachers and principals along with the Santa Fe community, Project Sweet Dreams anticipates a goal of 600 donated blankets.

Each Sweet Dreams participating school has the creative freedom to design their own innovative blanket drive. Karen Turner, director and teacher at The Oz School, has her students working on chimpanzee paintings, which will be the focus of a March art show in Kaune’s windows. The paintings will be for sale and the money raised will go to STC. The Oz students will also be collecting blankets from their families and friends.

The Tesuque Elementary School principal, Cliff Cisineros, has embraced this campaign for his school, too. They were one of the local schools honored with a visit from Jane Goodall last October.

The Santa Fe Girls School has enthusiastically embarked on creating a blanket drive with the intention of the 6th grade class continuing this Roots and Shoots program through the 8th grade.

Roots and Shoots, founded by world renowned primatologist, Jane Goodall, is a global environmental & humanitarian education program whose goal is making the world a better place by cultivating respect, compassion and service for animals, humans and the environment. With participation in over 90 countries from pre-K to senior citizens, the possibilities for Roots and Shoots service projects are infinite, given the unique needs of each community.

STC is finishing construction of 11 new islands on 200 acres in Ft. Pierce, Florida, making it the largest permanent chimpanzee sanctuary in the world. Within the next two years, all 225 Alamogordo chimpanzees will relocate to sunny Florida. Each newly socialized family of 20-25 chimps will have their own 3-acre island to call home.

Save the Chimps has made sure that these amazing beings are free to live the rest of their lives in peace with the dignity and freedom they deserve. These individuals now have a chance to live productive and secure lives with their new forever families. With sunlight on their faces and the earth underneath their feet, they will never have to live in fear again.

All Santa Fe schools are welcome to join this campaign. The Eldorado Animal Clinic, Petco and Tesuque Elementary School are a few of the local drop off locations. Contact Project Sweet Dreams at (505) 466-0007 for information and drop off locations.

Information on Save the Chimps can be found at Save The Chimps.

Debra Rosenman, Director of Project Sweet Dreams, is an ardent supporter of animal rights and owner of Tribal Heart Media, a local media / community relations/ events organization.


Atrocities are not less atrocities when they occur in laboratories and are called medical research.
- George Bernard Shaw


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