Posts tagged pepper

A heartfelt letter from Fauna Director and Founder Gloria Grow written to Pepper, who passed away a year ago today. 

Pepper lived in a lab for 27 years before her release. She suffered untold atrocities. Thankfully she lived her later years in sanctuary at Fauna Foundation and passed away last year on June 27. She is dearly missed. Watch Pepper’s story and find out more more about Project R&R.
Pepper would have been 43 years old today. She passed away this summer on June 27th. She is greatly missed here at Fauna, especially by her best friend Sue Ellen. 

Pepper would have been 43 years old today. She passed away this summer on June 27th. She is greatly missed here at Fauna, especially by her best friend Sue Ellen. 

Pepper passed away three months ago today. We all miss you Pepper. 
Photo © Jo-Anne McArthur

Pepper passed away three months ago today. We all miss you Pepper. 

Photo © Jo-Anne McArthur

Fauna Foundation is making available a commemorative, signed, limited edition photo of Pepper. The photo, which appeared on Pepper’s memorial announcement, was taken by wildlife photographer NJ Wight and the proceeds from this offer will benefit the Fauna Lifetime Care Fund. Find out more: http://www.faunafoundation.org/pdfs/CommemorativePepper.pdf
Click here to learn more about the late, great Ms Pepper.

Fauna Foundation is making available a commemorative, signed, limited edition photo of Pepper. The photo, which appeared on Pepper’s memorial announcement, was taken by wildlife photographer NJ Wight and the proceeds from this offer will benefit the Fauna Lifetime Care Fund. 
Find out more: http://www.faunafoundation.org/pdfs/CommemorativePepper.pdf

Click here to learn more about the late, great Ms Pepper.

A Letter from filmmaker Allison Argo

We received this moving letter from filmmaker Allison Argo, who, upon hearing of Pepper’s illness made the long trip up to visit her old friend during her last days. A long-time friend of Fauna’s, Allison is the award-winning filmmaker behind dozens of documentaries including; Urban Elephant, Frogs: The Thin Green Line and the PBS Nature production of Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History. When asked to share an anecdote on her experiences making this film Allison recounted a wonderful story about Pepper:

Up at Fauna Foundation [outside Montreal], a female chimpanzee named Pepper was grooming my arm and she clearly wanted me to take my watch off because it was in the way. So I took my watch off and she had it so fast! It was in the cage, and I thought, “Oh well, that’s the end of the watch. I really liked that watch, too.” She grasped it in her foot, since they can use their feet like hands. So she held it in her foot and groomed me for about 10 minutes. And then when she was finished, she very gently took it out of her foot and handed it out to me. And I was just amazed. It was so considerate, sensitive. She understood that it was something that was mine, something that I liked.

Please read and share her letter. It provides compassionate and intelligent insights into the lives of medical research chimpanzees. At the bottom of the letter Allison provides valuable links to find out more about the Great Ape Protection Act in the USA. We are grateful that Allison has continued to be part of the Fauna family.


This morning I awoke with the heaviness of loss. A dear friend passed away last night. She was one of the most remarkable individuals I’ve ever met. Though I’d known her for less than a decade, she has left an indelible mark on who I am. She has awed me with her gentleness and generosity, with her ability to survive adversity and somehow elevate herself above it all. 

There are some individuals who transform us. They inspire and reshape us. I am a better person for having known this amazing soul. As I continue my life, I will conjure up my dear friend, hoping to channel her goodness, her openness, her patience and wisdom.

When I got word that her she was failing, I jumped behind the wheel and drove eight hours across the border so that I could see the light in her eyes one last time. I was not alone. Friends came from all over — by truck, by train, by plane — to pay their respects to a remarkable being. Long distance truckers, housewives, artists, doctors, students, we all flocked to her side to bask in the special light that was fading from her eyes.

Her name was Pepper.

Life can be cruel – especially to a chimpanzee trapped in the biomedical world. Pepper was one of these unlucky souls. 

I met Pepper in 2004 at a Sanctuary outside of Montreal. Pepper had been at the Fauna Foundation for seven years. When I met her, she had settled into a peaceful life where the food was varied and plentiful, where there were blankets and toys, and where her ‘keepers’ were compassionate. Still, it was almost a year before she trusted that the dart guns had not followed her from the laboratory. When Pepper first arrived, she would hide in the farthest corners of the big enclosures, trying to make herself invisible. Her caregivers were unable to clean the enclosure because Pepper was too terrified to move. 

Soon after I met Pepper, I was combing through archival video from a laboratory called LEMSIP. I came across a clip of a terrified chimpanzee screaming & cowering at the back of a cage. The chimp was trying to escape a dart gun; it looked like she was pleading for her life. I paused the video to get a closer look at the face. It was reminiscent of the horrible photos from Auschwitz – the ones that are emotionally impossible to look at for long. It was an awful moment when I realized… the chimp on the screen was Pepper. 

This grainy, old video allowed me a terrible glimpse into her thirty-year nightmare. The gun she cowered from she knew well… It meant only one thing: another invasive test–a bone marrow or cervical biopsy–or perhaps they would take a wedge from her liver this time. She’d had them all on a regular basis, with over 300 documented knock-downs. Have you ever awakened from surgery, shivering, aching and confused? Can you imagine waking with no pain medication, lying on steel bars with not even a blanket or a cup of water?

The history of Pepper’s earliest years has been lost, or possibly erased. She might have been caught in the wild, torn from her family and shipped to the US with dozens of other infant chimpanzees. Or she might have been born in a lab. Either way, she was almost certainly ripped from her mother’s breast and thrown into solitary confinement in a small, steel cage. The thought of surviving that alone makes my knees weak.

No one knows exactly how old Pepper was when she finally expired last night. Perhaps 40 – probably no more than 44. No matter which number is correct, she should have lived longer. Pepper’s life was cut short. Her liver was shot; she had an auto-immune disease. These were just two of the many gifts from her years in biomedical science.

Gloria, Pat, Dawna – all of the wonderful humans at Fauna gave Pepper a safe and loving refuge at the end of her unfortunate life. At Fauna, she had every kind of food imaginable, almost round-the-clock… she had blankets and soft words. No dart guns. No ketamine. No weekly surgeries. No 5x5x7 cage. She was able to develop friendships with other chimpanzees, though they too were damaged souls.

I will forever remember Pepper and her beautiful, deep voice. Her joyous pant-hoots. Her gentleness in grooming and her generosity in sharing food and drink. I will never forget how she held my foot in hers at the end.

When I sat with Pepper in her final days, I was looking at my grandmother again. Those tiny button eyes blinked in and out of consciousness… until they finally blinked out forever. My dear grandmother lived to 98; there were beautiful flowers and an obituary in the newspaper. For Pepper there will be no obituary. There will be no funeral. Her precious, little body will be sliced and inspected, so that we can better understand the horrors of biomedical research and the toll that it takes. I would wager that none of what is learned will come as a surprise.

Thank  you, dear Pepper, for all you gave. Physically and emotionally, you were the most generous soul I have ever known. You will not be forgotten. Never.

In honor of Pepper, please visit http://www.janegoodall.org/support-great-ape-protection-act and do all you can to support the Great Ape Protection Act. The United States is the only nation in the industrialized world that still conducts invasive research on chimpanzees. If we can pass this Act, hundreds of chimpanzees will be spared the nightmare that Pepper endured.

Allison and Pepper


To learn more about Pepper, please visit:  http://www.faunafoundation.org/html/pepperprofile.html

Other links:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/21/great-ape-protection-act-endorsements_n_1291781.html

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/s810

http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h1513/show

http://www.argofilms.com/film/chimpanzees-unnatural-history

 

Pepper passed away quietly last Wednesday evening. Thank you all for sending your kind thoughts. The following is a letter from Gloria Grow, the founder of Fauna Foundation, who has been caring for Pepper for almost 15 years, and was with her when she passed away.

We have all known times where we said and meant literally: “I don’t know where to begin.” I have been wanting to write to tell you about what has happened to Pepper. Yet, every time I sat to try to begin over the last two days, I froze. I went numb. And then I would decide to go out and pressure wash. Or water the plants. Or trim some trees. I suppose they are all the healthy “drugs” I use to get some relief from the nearly unbearable pain that I feel at having Pepper change in less than two weeks from a chimp who needed some attention because things weren’t quite right to someone who began to go through the sad, painful and always shocking process of dying.
I was right by her side the night she finally took her last breath. I had been with her since 4 PM that day. I sat gently beside her and we held hands the whole time. When she saw me come into her room, she carried her weary body to eagerly meet me those few seconds sooner than had she waited for me peacefully in her spot. Her greeting was sweet and joyful and filled with the kind of wonder that accompanies all miracles. After nearly 15 years of expressing our love with hard, cold steel between us, finally we could hold each other, groom each other and, when she felt too weak to hold her head up, she could rest it gently on my knee.
We were prepared on Saturday the 19th, or as prepared as you can be. We were going to do her and Binky. Pepper had been having some swelling on one side of her face and periodic bleeding from her nose. She was on anti-biotics and we were very careful to make sure she was getting all her favorite foods and that she was eating. We would anesthetize her so we could closely examine her mouth, nose, and cheek bone, take blood, palpate her abdomen, listen to her heart and give her a complete and good physical in hopes of understanding why she had been “off” and what we could do about it.
We discovered three loose teeth which had to be removed. What should have been routine dental work was when our nightmare began. Pepper started to bleed out. She had had problems when she was intubated and so the breathing tube had to be removed and after a few moments reinserted. That made us very cautious and concerned but not alarmed, yet. It was the profuse bleeding after pulling her teeth, accompanied by gums that were barely pink that caused each of us to look at the other with that sense of dread that accompanies the intuition that “this isn’t good” even before all the medical facts are in.
Pepper was diagnosed as being severely anemic from a blood disorder and in late stage kidney failure. While we were aware she was starting to have kidney function compromise, a very common disease in older female chimps, we did not know how progressed it was. Her blood work showed us a picture we were not happy to see. What it told us was that if Pepper made it through the week, we would be lucky for the time with her.
The week that followed was filled with everyone—human and chimp—making Pepper their priority and major if not only focus. Current and former volunteers visited…as did Allison Argo, Dr. Theo Capaldo, and supporters like  Gil and Roz Kaplansky. So many people important in her life and to whom she was so important and who are in touch with us on a nearly daily basis came when they heard the news. Pepper responded to everyone those first few days as if she were the cordial hostess greeting company she whole heartedly welcomed.
Of course my sisters Dawna and Linda and my brother Glen were with her hours on end. She was never alone nor out of the sight of one of the Grows…never. We brought her cherries and small sweet orange teardrop tomatoes, and large leafed, deep green fresh kale…and everything else that was or had become her favorite. We had to hand feed her as she was truly, for most of this past week, unable to hold herself up and eat…she could do only one or the other.
Those moments with her, nourishing her and covering her with blankets, and making certain that her every need was met, was an honor for us that touched the very edges of everything that is sacred. Still, knowing who Pepper was—the most generous, nurturing, kind, maternal, compassionate chimpanzee I have ever known…it did occur to us that she was taking care of us every bit as much as we were taking care of her.
Sue Ellen—her sidekick and chosen sister—kept a vigil. In her own nervous little way, she sat calmly, noting everything we were doing and making certain it met her approval. When she would go for a stroll or to visit others through the bars, we would sometimes close Pepper’s door so that we could go in and tend to her nest with clean blankets and make certain all was well without the threat of Suzie, who was, rightfully, in mega protective mode the whole time.
As for the others, well, I have never ever heard the chimp house so quiet. Nor have I seen them more concerned. They could hear Pepper’s calls–weak, strained and sounding like someone whose energy was draining. They knew…from those communications, from her absence, from their ability to sense what was happening in their world even in the absence of words. At one point the day before Pepper died, Petra, Jethro, Regis and Rachel gathered together in a rather narrow section of the caging that leads them to the open island. It had a good view of Pepper in her favorite spot in the skywalk. Each sat on one of the steps huddled together, not unlike humans do outside the hospital room of someone they love who is dying. They sat there together without words, reassuring each other without words, and acknowledging somehow that we are in this together. We will bear the loss and grieve that person together and we will remember that we do still have each other…our only consolation to losing someone so vital to our family.
My human family, our staff and friends could not have been more loving toward Pepper. Everyone–from the gardeners to maintenance to, of course, all animal staff, spent time with her. And all of us who work in the chimp house also had to make certain that Pepper’s entire chimp family was soothed during this time of pending loss. You would have been as proud of and as grateful for every one of the staff as I am.
Now, frankly, I need to curl up, withdraw, and take peace in the quiet of my mind as it stops trying to make sense of any of this. I will touch as many flowers and trees and plants and dogs and cats as I can to remind my senses that all is not lost, even if right now losing Pepper feels big enough to qualify for all. And I will accept her loss as yet another step toward the inevitable…the day when all the chimps have passed and our vision and the miracle we made happen will reach its end.
During my time of grieving please know that I so appreciate your caring, kind words and reassurances. A dear friend emailed me the day before she left to make the long drive up to visit Pepper. That morning she saw outside her window, over a field that is the edge of a forest, a magnificent double rainbow that emerged as the rain stopped and the sun’s face lit up the sky again. She captured it in a photo which she sent to me and wrote: “Pepper visited today to let us know that the heavens are waiting to embrace her.”
No matter your religious beliefs, your values, or spiritual practice, you certainly believe in good. And, that good is the only thing that matters—a tender heart, wise mind, courageous soul and beautiful face are “all good.” Pepper is now in that place that gives birth to all that is good and welcomes it back when its time on earth has ended. Pepper’s soul is pure good and for that we loved and will always love her. Now we must trust and know that while we will never again hear her voice, watch her laugh, smell her sweet scent…she has left us the gift of her goodness. Please, hold Pepper close to your heart. Learn her lessons and allow her goodness to infuse everything you do….for you, your loved ones, the animals and the earth itself. I will and so, I will always know that she is still with me. 
Gloria

Pepper passed away quietly last Wednesday evening. Thank you all for sending your kind thoughts. The following is a letter from Gloria Grow, the founder of Fauna Foundation, who has been caring for Pepper for almost 15 years, and was with her when she passed away.


We have all known times where we said and meant literally: “I don’t know where to begin.” I have been wanting to write to tell you about what has happened to Pepper. Yet, every time I sat to try to begin over the last two days, I froze. I went numb. And then I would decide to go out and pressure wash. Or water the plants. Or trim some trees. I suppose they are all the healthy “drugs” I use to get some relief from the nearly unbearable pain that I feel at having Pepper change in less than two weeks from a chimp who needed some attention because things weren’t quite right to someone who began to go through the sad, painful and always shocking process of dying.

I was right by her side the night she finally took her last breath. I had been with her since 4 PM that day. I sat gently beside her and we held hands the whole time. When she saw me come into her room, she carried her weary body to eagerly meet me those few seconds sooner than had she waited for me peacefully in her spot. Her greeting was sweet and joyful and filled with the kind of wonder that accompanies all miracles. After nearly 15 years of expressing our love with hard, cold steel between us, finally we could hold each other, groom each other and, when she felt too weak to hold her head up, she could rest it gently on my knee.

We were prepared on Saturday the 19th, or as prepared as you can be. We were going to do her and Binky. Pepper had been having some swelling on one side of her face and periodic bleeding from her nose. She was on anti-biotics and we were very careful to make sure she was getting all her favorite foods and that she was eating. We would anesthetize her so we could closely examine her mouth, nose, and cheek bone, take blood, palpate her abdomen, listen to her heart and give her a complete and good physical in hopes of understanding why she had been “off” and what we could do about it.

We discovered three loose teeth which had to be removed. What should have been routine dental work was when our nightmare began. Pepper started to bleed out. She had had problems when she was intubated and so the breathing tube had to be removed and after a few moments reinserted. That made us very cautious and concerned but not alarmed, yet. It was the profuse bleeding after pulling her teeth, accompanied by gums that were barely pink that caused each of us to look at the other with that sense of dread that accompanies the intuition that “this isn’t good” even before all the medical facts are in.

Pepper was diagnosed as being severely anemic from a blood disorder and in late stage kidney failure. While we were aware she was starting to have kidney function compromise, a very common disease in older female chimps, we did not know how progressed it was. Her blood work showed us a picture we were not happy to see. What it told us was that if Pepper made it through the week, we would be lucky for the time with her.

The week that followed was filled with everyonehuman and chimp—making Pepper their priority and major if not only focus. Current and former volunteers visited…as did Allison Argo, Dr. Theo Capaldo, and supporters like  Gil and Roz Kaplansky. So many people important in her life and to whom she was so important and who are in touch with us on a nearly daily basis came when they heard the news. Pepper responded to everyone those first few days as if she were the cordial hostess greeting company she whole heartedly welcomed.

Of course my sisters Dawna and Linda and my brother Glen were with her hours on end. She was never alone nor out of the sight of one of the Grows…never. We brought her cherries and small sweet orange teardrop tomatoes, and large leafed, deep green fresh kale…and everything else that was or had become her favorite. We had to hand feed her as she was truly, for most of this past week, unable to hold herself up and eat…she could do only one or the other.

Those moments with her, nourishing her and covering her with blankets, and making certain that her every need was met, was an honor for us that touched the very edges of everything that is sacred. Still, knowing who Pepper wasthe most generous, nurturing, kind, maternal, compassionate chimpanzee I have ever known…it did occur to us that she was taking care of us every bit as much as we were taking care of her.

Sue Ellenher sidekick and chosen sister—kept a vigil. In her own nervous little way, she sat calmly, noting everything we were doing and making certain it met her approval. When she would go for a stroll or to visit others through the bars, we would sometimes close Pepper’s door so that we could go in and tend to her nest with clean blankets and make certain all was well without the threat of Suzie, who was, rightfully, in mega protective mode the whole time.

As for the others, well, I have never ever heard the chimp house so quiet. Nor have I seen them more concerned. They could hear Pepper’s calls–weak, strained and sounding like someone whose energy was draining. They knew…from those communications, from her absence, from their ability to sense what was happening in their world even in the absence of words. At one point the day before Pepper died, Petra, Jethro, Regis and Rachel gathered together in a rather narrow section of the caging that leads them to the open island. It had a good view of Pepper in her favorite spot in the skywalk. Each sat on one of the steps huddled together, not unlike humans do outside the hospital room of someone they love who is dying. They sat there together without words, reassuring each other without words, and acknowledging somehow that we are in this together. We will bear the loss and grieve that person together and we will remember that we do still have each other…our only consolation to losing someone so vital to our family.

My human family, our staff and friends could not have been more loving toward Pepper. Everyone–from the gardeners to maintenance to, of course, all animal staff, spent time with her. And all of us who work in the chimp house also had to make certain that Pepper’s entire chimp family was soothed during this time of pending loss. You would have been as proud of and as grateful for every one of the staff as I am.

Now, frankly, I need to curl up, withdraw, and take peace in the quiet of my mind as it stops trying to make sense of any of this. I will touch as many flowers and trees and plants and dogs and cats as I can to remind my senses that all is not lost, even if right now losing Pepper feels big enough to qualify for all. And I will accept her loss as yet another step toward the inevitable…the day when all the chimps have passed and our vision and the miracle we made happen will reach its end.

During my time of grieving please know that I so appreciate your caring, kind words and reassurances. A dear friend emailed me the day before she left to make the long drive up to visit Pepper. That morning she saw outside her window, over a field that is the edge of a forest, a magnificent double rainbow that emerged as the rain stopped and the sun’s face lit up the sky again. She captured it in a photo which she sent to me and wrote: “Pepper visited today to let us know that the heavens are waiting to embrace her.”

No matter your religious beliefs, your values, or spiritual practice, you certainly believe in good. And, that good is the only thing that mattersa tender heart, wise mind, courageous soul and beautiful face are “all good.” Pepper is now in that place that gives birth to all that is good and welcomes it back when its time on earth has ended. Pepper’s soul is pure good and for that we loved and will always love her. Now we must trust and know that while we will never again hear her voice, watch her laugh, smell her sweet scent…she has left us the gift of her goodness. Please, hold Pepper close to your heart. Learn her lessons and allow her goodness to infuse everything you do….for you, your loved ones, the animals and the earth itself. I will and so, I will always know that she is still with me. 

Gloria

From Tony Smith, President of the Fauna Sanctuary and Advisory Board member of  Fauna Foundation.
Dear friends and supporters of the Fauna family of chimpanzees.
Some of you may be aware that Miss Pepper has been sick for some time now and that over the past week her health has considerably deteriorated. Gloria has asked me to let you all know of Pepper’s condition and to provide you with a little update.
During the past week her condition has changed, as well as her routine. She is sleeping a lot more now and is still getting up for food and drinks. Unfortunately, she has become very weak and has been experiencing more discomfort. 
She appreciates all the help everyone is giving, making her nice clean beds and serving her favourite foods. She is still changing places to have her naps, but prefers her bed up in the outside mezzanine area.
Her best girlfriend, Sue Ellen, comes to visit and groom her on occasion. 
Gloria, close family, all care-givers and friends have been constantly by her side making her as comfortable as possible and ensuring that she is never alone. 
To her great delight Pepper has had many visitors around the clock, all familiar faces to her, and she perks up each time one appears.
Pepper appears to be in no pain, as tough as she is, but is very tired now.
On behalf of Gloria and all the Fauna family and staff, sincere thanks to all of you who have supported and visited Pepper over the past weeks, some from a great distance.
She is loved by many and we will keep you updated.
You can read Pepper’s story here.

From Tony Smith, President of the Fauna Sanctuary and Advisory Board member of  Fauna Foundation.

Dear friends and supporters of the Fauna family of chimpanzees.

Some of you may be aware that Miss Pepper has been sick for some time now and that over the past week her health has considerably deteriorated. Gloria has asked me to let you all know of Pepper’s condition and to provide you with a little update.

During the past week her condition has changed, as well as her routine. She is sleeping a lot more now and is still getting up for food and drinks. Unfortunately, she has become very weak and has been experiencing more discomfort. 

She appreciates all the help everyone is giving, making her nice clean beds and serving her favourite foods. She is still changing places to have her naps, but prefers her bed up in the outside mezzanine area.

Her best girlfriend, Sue Ellen, comes to visit and groom her on occasion. 

Gloria, close family, all care-givers and friends have been constantly by her side making her as comfortable as possible and ensuring that she is never alone. 

To her great delight Pepper has had many visitors around the clock, all familiar faces to her, and she perks up each time one appears.

Pepper appears to be in no pain, as tough as she is, but is very tired now.

On behalf of Gloria and all the Fauna family and staff, sincere thanks to all of you who have supported and visited Pepper over the past weeks, some from a great distance.

She is loved by many and we will keep you updated.

You can read Pepper’s story here.