My Favorite Things
|• My Family
|• Foraging Boards
Save the Chimps has some very exciting news! Walden, a member of Bobby’s family, who is well known for his exuberant personality, has begun to make great strides in his island adventures.
When Walden was released for the first time onto his island home in early 2010, he immediately went outdoors, explored the entire island, and came back inside. He must not have been impressed, because for the next five years, Walden was spotted outside only once, during a Chimpmas party a few years ago. His love for Nuri, a sweet older female who also did not like the outdoors, gave him the courage to quickly run outside, pick up a gift, and run back inside to give to her. The rest of the time, the most Walden would do was sit in the doorway, but he never fully ventured outside.
Recently, however, Walden has worked up the courage to set foot outdoors and onto the grass. His first steps outside were with his buddy Garrey, who was also timid about stepping too far away from the security of his indoor housing. Perhaps their shared caution gave Walden some comfort as he slowly stepped his way outside. The person who has really helped Walden expand his horizons, however, is Ragan. Ragan loves the island, with its lovely palm trees and plenty of platforms to lounge on. Walden and Ragan have recently formed a very strong bond, and Walden often whimpered when Ragan left his side to go out to the island. Ragan would come back to the building after awhile, but clearly wanted Walden to join him outside. One day the call came over the radio from Walden’s caregivers: “Walden is outside on the patio!” (The patio is a concrete area adjacent to the chimpanzees’ indoor housing.) Since then, Walden has been spotted outdoors more and more often, even venturing off of the patio and into the grass. Ragan helped Walden develop the confidence to overcome his fears.
Some chimps are timid when it comes to stepping outside, and Walden was one of those few. Walden’s reluctance to go outside is almost certainly due to his confinement during his youth. Walden’s history in biomedical research is disturbing. Born June 6, 1997 at The Coulston Foundation research laboratory in Alamogordo NM, to his parents Beth and Shakey, Walden was taken from his mother after only two days and raised in the laboratory nursery. When Walden was a year and a half old he was shipped to Bioqual, a research facility in Maryland, where he lived entirely indoors for years, often in isolation. During his seven years at Bioqual, Walden was anesthetized a staggering 674 times, and had to endure 209 painful liver biopsies.
Despite all of Walden’s pain and distress, he is one of the most joyful, playful, gentle, and caring chimpanzees. He is well respected by his chimp family, loves to play chase with us, and is quite the ladies’ man. He is another reminder that Save the Chimps’ late founder Dr. Noon’s words ring true,
“All they need from us is a chance. If we meet them halfway,
just give them space and freedom, then they recover on their own.”
It may take years, but we can never give up hope that with time, freedom to choose, and with the support of friends, even the most traumatized chimp will take that chance and run with it. Save the Chimps looks forward to Walden continuing to expand his horizons and enjoy his sanctuary freedom. View more photos of Walden »