During the 12 years I owned my art gallery, we donated quite a bit to various causes. Once you get a reputation for giving, the word spreads and more people hit you up each year. I tried to concentrate most of my giving to causes that had an Africa link because we featured African art. We also gave to some local Portland causes because they were associated with some of my loyal customers.
One of the many charities we donated to was IDA-Africa (In Defense of Animals). It was a Cameroon based charity run by an American woman named Dr. Sheri Speede. They have run the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center for the last 10 years, rescuing and rehabilitating many chimpanzees. Years ago, they held a large auction in Portland and flew in some Hollywood celebrity to emcee. We donated a nice Shona stone sculpture from Zimbabwe, as I recall, for their oral auction. Fast forward a number of years to a couple weeks ago when I stumbled across this photo from their Cameroonian refuge that has been making an impact across the internet. It is a very powerful and touching picture witnessing the collective respect and empathy from all the chimpanzees for one of their comrades who had recently died of congestive heart failure.
Then a couple days ago, their yearly newsletter arrived with more details about Dorothy, the deceased chimpanzee pictured. Dorothy had spent 25 years of her life with a chain around her neck - a forlorn "attraction" at an amusement park. In May 2000, Dorothy became one of the first three orphans rescued by IDA-Africa. She shared eight years and four months with them.
"Cherished perhaps most of all by Nama, her loyal friend who suffered with her through some of those horrible years at the amusement park and who was rescued with her. Nama sat beside Dorothy in death, touching her gently and not wanting to leave her body.
While Dorothy never gave birth to a child, her motherly instincts were not lost. Compassionately, she adopted baby orphan Bouboule in 2002. Her love transformed him from a sad, insecure little boy looking for his place, to a happy, self-confident rascal. With Dorothy's love and protection Bouboule grew physically strong and emotionally confident. He is positioning himself within his family group to become the next alpha male, a position currently held by beloved Jacky."
Also within the newsletter are beautiful photos with bios for 16 of the chimpanzees. They are treated with tremendous respect, as they should be. We humans consider ourselves as the top of the food chain, claiming intellectual and emotional superiority as well, but I think there is a lot we can learn from some of the other creatures with whom we share this earth.