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Chimpanzee’s Solitary Confinement Comes to an End
It’s a whole new world for Joe, a chimpanzee who has been held in captivity since the day he was born. He was recently moved from a sleazy roadside zoo to a lush sanctuary in Florida called Save the Chimps, where he can climb, play and make friends.
It’s believed that Joe was born in 1989, raised by humans and, while a juvenile, used in the entertainment industry. The Mobile Zoo, a roadside zoo in Alabama, acquired him in 1999 from animal trainer Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife. Even though chimpanzees are highly social animals who thrive in extended family groups, documentation shows that Joe had always lived alone at The Mobile Zoo, except when he was introduced to a couple of other chimpanzees for a brief time.
For nearly two decades, Joe’s entire world consisted of a horse stall and a barren enclosure no larger than a dog run, with only a few hoses and toddler toys for “entertainment.” He lived—if you can call it that—on a packed-dirt floor behind double layers of chain-link fence. The Mobile Zoo encouraged visitors to throw peanuts at him.
Indeed, the standard of care at The Mobile Zoo is so poor that the U.S. Department of Agriculture filed an official complaint against the facility in 2015, a case that is still pending.
PETA Files Suit
In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it was eliminating a loophole that excluded captive chimpanzees from the protections of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Since the new rule went into effect, all chimpanzees—whether held captive or living in the wild—are now considered endangered. The ESA prohibits “takes” of endangered animals and makes it unlawful to wound, harass or otherwise harm them.
PETA and two concerned citizens filed an ESA lawsuit against The Mobile Zoo and its director, John Hightower, in January. Our lawsuit alleged that the roadside zoo violated the ESA by isolating Joe from other members of his species and denying him the complex environment that he needed.
We secured placement for him at a reputable sanctuary and were ready to arrange for his transport and the veterinary care necessary for his relocation.
When Hightower and The Mobile Zoo finally agreed to do the right thing for Joe and relinquish him to Save the Chimps, we agreed to dismiss our lawsuit.
Save the Chimps, which is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, will carefully integrate Joe at his own pace and within his comfort zone. The skilled sanctuary staff have experience integrating chimpanzees from all different backgrounds, including those who have been isolated for long periods of time and will be able to help Joe find his way in an appropriate social group—and that’s already happening!
When Joe met a lovely chimpanzee named Geraldine through a barrier, he immediately starting panting. In chimpanzee language, this is like saying, “Hello.” Chimpanzees also pant to let others know that “it’s all good.” When the door between them was opened, Joe and Geraldine greeted each other. She walked over to his side and he gave her a big hug. Joe spent a lot of time grooming Geraldine, a sign of comfort and friendship.
Later, the two new friends moved outdoors and spent time roaming around the enclosure together. More happy days are surely ahead.
Joe may not have understood the significance, but one of the first to welcome him to Florida was renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, who stopped by for a visit while Joe was on his way to the sanctuary.
He is the sixth formerly solitary chimpanzee PETA has gotten moved to Save the Chimps in the past three years—and the previous five are all now thriving in social groups with other chimpanzees.
Other Chimps Need You
Unfortunately, other chimpanzees are still suffering in solitary confinement—including 17 of them, who are confined at Missouri State Primate Foundation:
We will keep working until no chimpanzee suffers alone in a zoo cage.
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By Julia Conley
Climate campaigners on Friday expressed hope that policymakers who are stalling on taking decisive climate action would reconsider their stance in light of new warnings from an unlikely source: two economists at J.P. Morgan Chase.
Tensions are continuing to rise in Canada over a controversial pipeline project as protesters enter their 12th day blockading railways, demonstrating on streets and highways, and paralyzing the nation's rail system
Colorado River Has Lost 1.5 Billion Tons of Water to the Climate Crisis, 'Severe Water Shortages' May Follow
California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.
The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.
"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."
While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.
The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.
"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.
Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.
"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.
NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.
As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.
"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.
The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.
"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."
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