Marcelino is calling to her, but Cecilia cannot be with him. Not yet. He may be handsome, but she has suffered a lot and isn’t ready for a relationship.
This is not a soap opera. It is just the way things go in a Brazilian refuge for abused and depressed chimpanzees.
Cecilia, 20, sits on a rooftop and gazes wistfully around — perhaps remembering her childhood spent in a cramped zoo, or her two friends who died there.
Luckily she is now in the best place to have her depression treated: the Sorocaba Great Primates Sanctuary. She is alone in her enclosure, but with toys and plenty of space, it beats being in a zoo. And her carers say she is slowly getting better.
LONELY APES’ CLUB
Cecilia came to Sorocaba four months ago from Mendoza in Argentina, after making legal history in a case brought by animal rights’ groups.
The judge ruled that Cecilia was being held in unsuitable conditions at the Mendoza zoo and should be transferred to this sanctuary near Sao Paulo.
In her ruling, the judge defined Cecilia as “a non-human subject of law.” Though she is a chimp, the law applied to her as it would to a person. Experts say she was the first ape ever to be transferred to a sanctuary under such a legal ruling.
Cecilia had spent her whole life in the zoo, deprived of the benefits of roaming free in the wild. Above all, she was lonely: heartbroken by the deaths of Charly and Xuxa, her two lifetime chimp companions.
“When she arrived here she had no physical problems but she was very depressed,” says Camila Gentille, a veterinary at the sanctuary. “She used to spend all her time lying down and did not interact with anyone.”
Now Cecilia is starting to eat better and even looks over and replies when Marcelino calls to her from his nearby enclosure, as she sits on her perch.
In Sorocaba, Cecilia shares a 500,000 square meter refuge of trees, grass and enclosures with about 50 other chimps, as well as hundreds of other animals such as lions and bears.
A staff of 30 tend to them. Some of the apes receive medication to stop them mutilating themselves. But they also benefit from emotional support.
“It is very important to talk to them so they don’t feel lonely,” says Merivan Miranda, one of the carers, “so that they know there is someone there who understands them.”
ABUSED AND MISTREATED
One of the chimps, Dolores, 18, sits shrieking on her perch — the mental effect of years of mistreatment in a zoo. Another, Jango, gives a broad but toothless smile when the director of the sanctuary, Pedro Ynterian, approaches.
The zookeepers who used to own Jango castrated him and pulled his teeth out. He came to the sanctuary in 2003.
“These animals were abused and mistreated in circuses and zoos, and taken by traffickers who made money out of them,” Ynterian says.
“They need a place where they will be treated decently, without visits by the public, that is not a zoo. This is the only such place in Latin America.”
Ynterian, 77, has spoken widely in the media about how he took part in his native Cuba in a foiled attack against its late communist leader Fidel Castro.
Now this Cuban microbiologist fights for the animals.
He joined up with the Great Ape Project, an international association which targets mistreatment in circuses and zoos.
“I’ve had some serious problems,” he says. “People even tried to kill me a few years ago, because there’s a lot of money involved in the market in animals.”
The Brazilian Traveling Circus Union sued Ynterian, accusing him of being part of an animal trafficking racket. The Sao Paulo state prosecution service said it investigated Ynterian and closed the case against him in 2012 without charges.
Staff at the refuge had initially tried to pair Cecilia off with a chimp named Billy, but he turned out to be too impulsive for her.
They hope she will have better luck with Marcelino.
He shares an enclosure with his family, but is not getting on with his father. It is time he found himself a nice girl-chimp and moved out.
Cecilia, meanwhile, “is discovering a different world,” Ynterian says.
“She can walk freely over the earth and the grass. She is free in this territory and she can see that there are other chimpanzee families nearby.”
He is certain that with time Cecilia will overcome her depression.
“That is what she is seeking to do, so that she can partner with someone and stop living alone,” Ynterian says.
“And she will manage to do it.”
Taiwan’s rapid economic development between the 1950s and the 1980s is often attributed to rational planning by highly-educated and impartial technocrats. Those who look at history through blue-tinted spectacles argue that, for much of the post-war period, the government was staffed by Chinese who fled China after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lost the civil war “who had no property interests in Taiwan and no connections with a landlord class,” leaving “the KMT party-state more autonomous from societal influences than governments [elsewhere in East Asia],” writes Gaye Christoffersen in Market Economics and Political Change: Comparing China and Mexico. At the same
It’s impossible to write a book entirely in the Taokas language. There are only about 500 recorded words in the Aboriginal tongue, whose speakers shifted to Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) generations ago while preserving certain Taokas phrases in their speech. “When I first started recording the language around 1997, I really had to jog the memories of the elders to find anything,” says Liu Chiu-yun (劉秋雲) a member of the Taokas community and a language researcher. The Taokas last month unveiled a picture book, Osubalaki, Balalong Ramut the community’s first-ever commercial publication using the language. The lavishly illustrated book
Certain historical statues have been disappearing in Thailand, but they are not effigies of colonialists or slave owners torn down by protesters. Instead, Thailand’s vanishing monuments celebrated leaders of the 1932 revolution that ended absolute monarchy in Thailand, who were once officially honored as national heroes and symbols of democracy. Reuters has identified at least six sites memorializing the People’s Party that led the revolution which have been removed or renamed in the past year. In most cases it is not known who took the statues down, although a military official said one was removed for new landscaping. Two army camps named after 1932
Jason Ward fell in love with birds at age 14 when he spotted a peregrine falcon outside the homeless shelter where he was staying with his family. The now 33-year-old Atlanta bird lover parlayed that passion into a YouTube series last year. One of the guests on his first episode of Birds of North America was Christian Cooper, a black bird watcher who was targeted in New York City’s Central Park by a white woman after he told her to leash her dog. A video capturing the encounter showed the woman, Amy Cooper (no relation), retaliate by calling the police