COMMUNITY • BY SAMANTHA BORTNIKER
Relaxing in the Florida sun, sipping on Gatorade, eating penne pasta and cuddling pillow pets doesn’t only describe people, but also rescued chimpanzees.
“We’re asking for donations to give to the chimps,” said 9-year-old Eleanor Sharp. Save the Chimps is a chimpanzee sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Fla., that houses chimps once used for research. “They need food and toys to play with.”
GSCNC Troop 5384 is helping the organization to sustain the environment for rescued chimps by contributing food and toys.
Troop Leader Jana Asher stumbled across this project. She received an email from Care2, a website that promotes humanitarian causes, about chimpanzees freed after medical research.
“I gathered the girls together that were especially interested in animals and told them the story and they were hooked. They put together a presentation for the rest of the troop and the whole troop took on the project,” said Asher.
The mission of Save the Chimps stated on its website is “to provide and build support for permanent sanctuary for the lifelong care of chimpanzees rescued from research laboratories, entertainment, and the pet trade.”
Save the Chimps started in 1997. In 2002 the primate research facility The Coulston Foundation faced bankruptcy and violations of the Animal Welfare Act resulting in the donation of 266 chimpanzees to Save the Chimps. The organization received an emergency grant to purchase the Coulston Foundation buildings and expand, but it took ten years to get the chimpanzees to Florida.
Save the Chimps fit perfectly with the Girl Scout’s program. The program includes “Journeys” to teach the girls leadership skills and to make a difference through three steps: discover, connect and take action.
Asher explained her Brownie level troop was working on the journey “A World of Girls.” It teaches the girls they have the power to change stories by taking action.
Toys, oats, Gaterade . . .
“That’s the part of the story where our troop comes in,” said Asher. “The girls knew they could help by collecting food and toys needed…and that their work would mean the story of the chimpanzees would have a happy ending.”
Asher spoke to Save the Chimp’s Monica Naranjo who directed her to the wish list. Save the Chimps wish list includes items for chimp enrichment (toys) and food. The troop successfully collected 600 tennis balls and helped Save the Chimps reach its goal of collecting enough powdered Gatorade to last a year. The wish list set goals of 500 stuffed animals, 50 new large Kong toys, 7,800 lbs of oats (a six month supply), 780 lbs of raisins (also a six month supply), and 1,560 lbs of pasta (a year supply).
The troop is still seeking donations of: oats, raisins, penne pasta, large Kong toys, and stuffed animals. The large Kong toys are rubber chew toys purchased for dogs and chimps seem to prefer pillow pets and other non-pellet large stuffed animals.
“They did medical experiments on them and they had hard lives,” said Asher’s 7-year-old daughter Rosie Resnick. “So it’s good for us to pay them back for what they did for us.”
Resnick said the chimps were exploited while being used for medical research to benefit humanity.
Love at first sight
“When you think about the chimps as lab animals it’s really sad because they have to be in cramped up spaces,” said Sharp.
To promote the cause of Save the Chimps the girls are making flyers and videos.
“The girls loved the chimps at first sight,” said Asher. “They believe in the cause of Save the Chimps.”
Asher is planning a field trip to deliver the donations. Donations will be collected until June 30 and can be delivered to 1111 Jackson Ave, Takoma Park, Md. Troop Leader Jana Asher’s contact information is: email@example.com.