Friday, May 24, 2013

Guest Blog by Debra Rosenman

The photo's of Etaito and Gari are courtesy of John Debenham. The photo's were taken at a half way house in Goma, DRC. All the babies were taken away from their mothers, and five of them were at this halfway house for a few months.

I met Debra at a symposium on Chimpanzees in Wichita, KS, some years ago. She told me about the book she was working on. Hurt Go Happy had been out a couple years by then, so we had interests in common. Her dedication to revealing the crimes humans have committed against our nearest relatives in the animal world deserves to be seen. Perhaps you will join me in supporting her effort. GR

I have been working on a book called The Chimpanzee Chronicles: Spellbinding Stories from Behind the Bars, since 2007 and it is ready to be birthed into the world! 

The Chimpanzee Chronicles takes you behind the bars for a glimpse into the hidden worlds and real lives of captive chimpanzees. This unique anthology of twenty-six stories from around the globe exposes the veiled worlds of biomedical lab research, the entertainment industry, and exotic pet trade. While the narratives bear witness to the injustice, exploitation and heartless treatment of captive chimpanzees, the book isn’t only about suffering; it’s also about strength, hope, and compassion. All is revealed through the eyes, ears, and hearts of the chimpanzees and their human caregivers.

Some stories will shock you, some will amuse you, but all will open your heart to reconsider our relationship with these highly intelligent and sensitive beings.
We are beginning to recognize the exploitation of chimpanzees in our country, and the suffering they have endured. It’s time for us, as individuals and a nation, to stand together and say, “No more. What can we do for them?”

I have put my heart and soul into this book, and I am proud to be one of many voices speaking out for captive chimpanzees! The stories in The Chimpanzee Chronicles are about chimpanzees, but monkeys and orangutans are part of some of the narratives as well.

Here's a sneak peak-a few paragraphs from three different stories!

From Jen Feuerstein/ Sanctuary Director at Save the Chimps
Hand in Hand: Remembering Rhett

Another practice at Yerkes that really bothered me was the baby monkeys taken away from their  moms on the day they were born, for research. They would stick them in a light-tight black box because they were going to the Main Center where all the  hard-core biomedical research was happening. The babies would then be fitted with prism, contact lenses or goggles, to manipulate their sight and the input of light into their eyes, in order to see how that affected eye development.

The lead investigator for this study did a presentation on the project and they said part of the reason this work was so important was because there was a high incidence of nearsightedness in children in Thailand. The logic of this escaped me. I am nearsighted and I have treatment for it. It seemed to me that perhaps the money they were spending on doing this to baby monkeys would be better spent on providing eyeglasses for children in Thailand.

From Gloria Grow/ Founder/Director of Fauna Foundation in Canada
Knowing Jeannie

In 1981, Merck, Sharpe & Dohme pharmaceuticals sent Ch-562—Jeannie—to the Buckshire Corporation research facility. She was six years old. Seven years later, Buckshire sent her to the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP).There, Jean was subjected to years of research including being inoculated with HIV, continual vaginal washes, and cervical biopsies. She was often treated for self-inflicted wounds—a sign of severe stress. Following a 1995 experiment, Jean had what everyone described as a “nervous breakdown.” She was no longer of use to research. For the next two years she was left alone, heavily medicated, in her slightly less than 5’x5’x7’ cage. The drugs did little to prevent her from screaming continually, ripping her fingernails off, thrashing out of control or huddling against the floor in the back of her cage. That is where I met her, sitting in that dark corner, looking more terrified than anyone I had ever seen, lost in another world. Jean looked up at me with beautiful almond shaped eyes that seemed to be pleading, “Will you help?”

From Adriana Martin/ primatologist/lawyer/activist
Friends or Captors? My Memories of Moja and Other Chimpanzee Friends
Moja was a beautiful chimp by all accounts. Her face was very black, she had hazel eyes and her lips were naturally pursed. This gave her a pouty look that made her a crowd favorite at the “Chimpsiums,” the weekend open house for community members who paid a fee to spend an hour learning about chimps and chimp behavior. Red was Moja’s favorite color. When it was time to pass out blankets, she would pick the red one from a pile of multicolored blankets. She signed, “RED THAT.” If there were no red blankets at sleep time, she would sign, “RED.” I would answer, “NO RED, RED DIRTY” meaning that the red blanket was in the washer. She would point to the enrichment closet and sign, “RED THERE.” This was to remind me where I could get a red blanket. During the day, she asked for red clothes to either wear or to make nests. She looked good in red and I think she knew it. Moja would stare at herself in the mirror and comb her arm hair with a brush. Her legs were very straight as was her back. Slender and graceful, she looked a lot like a young Washoe, who was also a strikingly beautiful chimp. I remember Moja's eyes well. Primatologists know that chimpanzees do not like to stare at each other because it is a sign of dominance or aggression, but Moja could look into my eyes, and I could look into hers and neither felt threatened by the other.

Please consider making a small donation, or pre-ordering the book on my Indiegogo campaign site:

With love,
Debra Rosenman

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Suzanne and Andy

I spent most of last week at Green Gulch, a Zen Center, north of San Francisco. I was with 12 women friends--most of whom are writers. Four of us share a 20-year history that traces its roots back to the writing group Suzanne Byerley and I started.

Suz was the 2nd person I met when I moved to the Mendocino Coast 21 years ago. We were both writers, and once a week would go down to Noyo Harbor's Old Dock Cafe (long gone) to write and talk about writing. In 1996, when it looked as if the Mendocino Coast Writers conference was going to cease to exist after the departure of its founder, she and I took it over. For the next 8 years we worked as co-directors. In 2004, she and her husband, Andy, made the decision to move to Ohio to be closer to her daughters and grandchildren. We took over the conference together and we departed together, though I've remained a board member.

On Tuesday, while at Green Gulch, we got word that Suzanne had been killed in a traffic accident. I wouldn't normally use this blog to share a personal loss, especially since it goes to so many kids, but Suzanne was one of the kindest, most gentle women I've ever known. On her Facebook page is a tribute written by a young woman who was a teenager when Suzanne took her under her wing after Ona's mother died. It's a beautiful reflection of the kind of woman Suz was. All our lives have lost luster because she's gone. I've chosen to share this because she lost her life in a split second. If she had arrived at that stop sign in Pierpont, Ohio, a moment earlier, or a moment later, she would be with us still.

I want this to be about living your life to the fullest, as Suz did, reaching out to the people who love you, and to those who need you, to care deeply about this planet and to live a giving life.

Suz loved shards--pieces she would fine of past lives: a beautiful feather, a butterfly wing, a stone with a unique shape. On Monday, before we lost her, I found a robin's egg. It was in the yard outside where we were staying. It was stone cold, so I took it in to show the others. On Wednesday, we had our own memorial service for Suz, lead by a Zen priest. We hung messages to her in a Tibetan cherry tree, and I left her my egg.

Before Suz and Andy moved to Ohio, she took me out on her deck and showed me the web a spider had built. It was huge and in a place where they had to use another door to enter and exit their house. Last night, on my upstairs deck, there was a spider building a web that stretched from the roof to the railing. I put a chair under it so I will remember it's there, and to duck.

This is a poem that Suz sent to Susan, one of the 4 of us with the long, long history. How perfect this final message is to us all.

Last afternoon
up Waverly Lane
The room ricocheted
with my dna
seven humans
with threads of me

What is this about
all buzzing and crackling
made manifest
in lunatic laughter
pounding out
Heart and Soul on the piano
Singing and pounding
out the pain of my mistakes
now their mistakes
their fortunes
and misfortunes
their hearts
their souls
all threaded and shredded
through mine

written at Chagrin Inn in July 2012

Saturday, May 11, 2013


 Video of Pinkie

Retired lab chimps see daylight
for first time in 30 years

Tadpole follow-up

Apparently, I'm not the only one with an aquarium full of rescued tadpoles. Here's a helpful website for the care and feeding of tadpoles
Range of the Pacific Chorus Frog
commonly called a green tree frog
They can change from green to brown

Monday, May 6, 2013

A dog and some frogs (to be)

I love the Mendocino coast for a myriad of reasons. First, it's almost never hot. As a Floridian, I'm most grateful for that. Then there are the residents. I was in the car with a friend in Miami last week, and at every traffic light the woman behind us blasted her horn the instant the light turned to green. I think it's the anonymity. In a city, people can get away with being rude and crude, but here the person you give the finger to may know you or someone who does. We keep our frustration with slow drivers in check.
Pacific Chorus Frog

 How'd I get off on that subject? This morning I heard someone calling--not my name--just calling, yohoo. I'm in my pajamas, as usual, so I'm hesitant to go outside to see what he/she wants. But I do because here on the coast we try to be neighborly and help people if they need help.

The woman, wearing calf-high rubber boots, jeans, and a baseball cap, was carrying two plastic bags. Inside were plastic containers full of tadpoles. We had very little rain this year, and the puddles where she found them were drying up so she was on a rescue mission. I live on a creek, have a pond, and am--you know--nuts about animals.

There are now tadpoles in a smooth stretch of the creek, the pond and an old predator free aquarium. I've promised my only Chorus Frog company by mid-summer.

How to Raise Tadpoles

Speaking of rescues. This is Naki'o

As an abandoned puppy Naki'o developed severe frostbite in his paws and had to have them removed when he was rescued. Now, thanks to this groundbreaking use of prosthetics, he is able to run around again. Here he's still getting used to them, but in time he should be able to do everything a normally-pawed dog can do.

 Read the full story at Incredible Features

Video of Naki/o on his prosthetic legs 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Dear Teachers
I met a lot of teachers last week at April is for Authors in Palm Beach Gardens. Teachers who took their Saturday off to bring students to hear authors talk about their books and writing. You know I'm a fan of TED talks so when this week's program arrived this morning I chose to listen to the one by Rita Pierson. It was worth it, and I want to send it on the teachers and media specialists I met. You are Rita Pierson to your students, and it was an honor to meet you.

Mr. Vickers, my Rita Pierson

Thursday, May 2, 2013


I've just returned from this fabulous event in Palm Beach Gardens, and am honored to have been invited to participate. I met most of these authors,
and schlepped home many of their books. I was lucky enough to be on this panel with Danette Vigilante and the renown Sharon Draper. Here's a news clip of the panel.

dvjpgDANETTE VIGILANTE - Vigilante grew up in the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn, New York. In fifth grade, her teacher wrote a simple sentence on the back of her report card which changed her life forever: “Danette needs help with her reading.” Soon after, Danette began visiting the library and grew into a reading machine. Writing books became the next step in her journey. The Trouble with Half a Moon is her first middle grade novel.  Vigilante is an SSYRA 2012-2013 nominee.  READERS: Grades 5-8,

sd2SHARON DRAPER - Draper’s books have received numerous literary awards, including the ALA Coretta Scott King Award, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, Best of the Best, The Parent's Choice Award, the Children's Choice Award, the IRA Young Adult Choice Award, and the Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. Copper Sun was selected by the US State Department and IRA for the international project called Reading Across ContinentsDraper has been honored at the White House six times. Draper travels extensively and has been on television and radio programs throughout the country, discussing literature, reading and education. Out of My Mind was the 2011-2012 Sunshine State Young Reader Award winner in both the 3-5 and 6-8 categories. Readers: All ages

On the flight home, I read Sharon's book, Copper Sun, about a 15 year old girl, kidnapped from Africa in the 1700s and sold into slavery in America. As exhausted as I was from doing 3 programs at a middle school, driving an hour and a half to the airport in Fort Lauderdale, experiencing a two hour delay, and arriving in San Francisco just before midnight (or 3 a.m. Florida time), I still read it cover to cover on the flight. I don't often say this about a book, but I could not put it down.

Oh & the OMG part: