The National Institute of Health is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world and is comprised of almost 30 centers. Wednesday, June 26, NIH announced that they would be retiring 310 government owned chimpanzees.
Chimpanzees share 98% of our DNA, they have complex relationships, raise their young, wage wars, have friendships, alliances and enemies. They have extensive tool use and even have intricate means of communication. As far as I knew, they were endangered species. I mean, this is what IUCN’s website and even WWF will tell you. But today I learned that that was only applicable to free-living chimpanzees. This means that chimpanzees in captivity are listed as threatened. Maybe this doesn’t seem so bad, until you realize that that is the loophole that allows them to be test subjects and live in labs, in often, sub-par conditions.
The second semester of my freshman year of college I was desperate to transfer. I wasn’t a huge fan of the social scene and I would do anything to get out of Texas. I had planned to go abroad for a year to Costa Rica to live at a research station in Monte Verde Cloud Forest. I was leaning away from studying medicine and changing my major to biology and journalism. I wanted to study animals and write about them! What kinds of animals? Well, I just wasn’t so sure yet.
Biruté M. F. Galdikas was born to parents leaving Lithuania at the end of WWII for greener pastures in Canada. She was raised in Toronto in an ever-growing Baltic community. She states, “because of my mother’s tales and my parent’s fondness for nature, I became that unlikely combination of bookworm and nature lover”(39, Reflections of Eden). While growing up in Canada she often explored in the woods behind her home, envisioning herself becoming a great adventurer like the Man in the Yellow Hat from Curious George a favorite book form her childhood.
I am an anthropology and journalism student who is passionate about animal conservation. My dream was always to move overseas and have a first hand experience in saving my species of choice.