Friday, April 8, 2011

The pain of children and orangutans

Making the decision to talk about abuse and suicide was difficult. I knew friends and family were largely unaware of the trouble. After Shawn's post, A Daughter's Dark Tale of Abuse, a cousin wrote to give me support. "I don't know what to say," she wrote. "I'm just so horrified for you... I knew you had a rough childhood... but I had no idea... I'm at a loss for words."
Old friends from the 1960s wrote to me, telling me about enduring the pain of suicide. One lost her mother to suicide, another lost a brother.
There is so much pain around us that we never notice. There's the pain endured by friends, by family... and by innocent animals who pay the ultimate price for human entertainment. Pain endured by the babies of hundreds of quiet red apes who were murdered in Indonesia so zoos could have a couple to exhibit.
At about the same time that I was born in Detroit (in 1952), two orangutans were born in Borneo. Sadie and Jiggs. Their mothers were probably shot by animal dealers/hunters, since that was (and still is) the surest way to capture a baby orangutan, chimp, or gorilla. The hunters tore the screaming babies away from their dead mothers. Back then, when selling “wild-caught” great apes was still legal, they would ship the traumatized young ones in crates to their homes at zoos around the world.
In my blog, Chimp Trainer’s Daughter, I write about the sad lives and deaths of Sadie and Jiggs, those two orangutans bought by the Detroit Zoo in 1955. Please read my post on the pain of children and orangutans if you want to read their too brief stories.
While accredited zoos have stopped taking orangutans from the wild, the illegal capture and trade in orangutans continues to this day. I highly recommend two books if you want to learn more. The  Intimate Ape is excellent; the book Thinkers of the Jungle gives a decidedly candid report on the brutality inflicted on orangutans to this day.
Maybe, one day, we can learn how to stop the pain endured by children and orangutans.

-- Dawn
Chimp Trainer's Daughter
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