Publications: Project R&R News

Viewers respond to Argo film

November 7, 2006 • Posted in Project R&R News

Friends and members tune in to Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History

From L.D., Long Island, NY

Billy Jo at Fauna Foundation sanctuary

“I have to say it brought me to tears. These animals are no different than us. When I saw Billy wipe his mouth while carefully licking his ice cream cone I found it unbelievable that humans can ever justify eating animals or using them in any way.”

From G.M., San Antonio,TX

I don't even know how to begin to explain to you the reaction I got from viewing the documentary with the writer's group of journalists. Suffice it to say, we were completely emotionally overwhelmed with the topic and most all of us needed private time to compose ourselves. We're supposed to be professionals and yet, here we were, completely devastated. Even the men! The group remained silent except for the sounds of humanity grieving insularly yet collectively.

I found myself reaching out to others in the group and comforting them which was fine, because I was at a complete loss as to what I might wish to ask of Dr. Capaldo and Mrs. Grow. It was a time of deep introspection and not a time for inquiry! Who would have thought this? During the screening, we were all seated at a very large, oversized conference table and all eyes were fixed on the television screen. Not one person shuffled a paper, reached for their refreshments, got up to take a call/assignment or even excused themselves for the restroom. Which is very unlikely, because we are usually a most restless group! Up/down; up/down; constantly in and out...Not last night.

I had a brief momentary scare at the outset of the documentary when they show the lab workers strapping the chimp to the gurney, hand by hand, leg by leg. I thought that I wouldn't be able to view more because I was physically so sickened and didn't think I would be able to withstand the pain of observation. How ironic, isn't it? That it can be so painful to watch and yet, let's put ourselves for just one moment into how it must have felt for the chimps. Everyone had the same reaction of relief, when the documentary provided respite in moving on instead of staying painfully fixated on the bound chimp.

Another such moment was when they show the chimps in space and the time acceleration of their anxiety-induced state! The closing views of Tom in the tree at Fauna had us all screaming with delight and pounding our hands on the table or pumping our arms high over our heads with pure unadulterated joy! INCREDIBLE JOY!

It was especially difficult and moving for me personally (I cry now as I write this) to watch Gloria run along the outside of the enclosure urging Tom on. I could hear and feel the emotion in her voice and the cries quelling up in her. I will never forget Gloria in this triumphant, most "G-L-O-R-I-A-S" scene!!! (spelling intentional)

I could feel the long hours she has worked. I could sense her huge, open and loving heart with trying to urge and involve previous chimp owners to reacquaint themselves. It was so, so sad (yet extremely effective) to see Mr. Heath walk away and the camera focusing on the chimp obviously feeling a sense of abandonment all over again.

We all came away with a huge sense of dread regarding Lemsip and Coulston. We each only had to think that right here in San Antonio, we still have the Southwest Research Laboratory!

Other highlights are seeing the chimps enjoy the food so much, the purses with necklaces for sensory stimulation, and of course, all the work and progress in Florida and New Mexico.

Every time I think about Gloria running alongside the enclosure urging Tom on, I think of how her heart must have been bursting with such a huge mix of feelings, of joy and of relief and it makes me feel like my heart will burst also. The leaves of the tree blowing in the wind made such a visual and tangible impact of what that freedom must have felt like for Tom. It's as if every single leaf were a banner waving in the wind, freedom at last, victory at many years of hard work, such huge sacrifices of both chimp and human and then a single moment in time, captured on film, for the whole world to see and feel and witness—and be changed by, forever more.

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