Man and animals caught in the net of life and time

Wenka was born on the 21 May 1954, which makes her sixty- three years old this year. She has been in prisons and endured forms of torture, as well as abandonment, much grief and loneliness, throughout her whole life.

She was born in a laboratory in Florida and taken from her mother the day she was born, to be used in a vision experiment which lasted seventeen months. Wenka was ‘only’ a chimp and thus could be used and has been used for the cruel purposes of men all her life.

After the experiment she was sold to a family in North Carolina. Four years later, instead of finding an animal refuge for their pet, they returned her to the Yerkes National Primate Research Centre, as she was supposed to be too big to handle.

Since losing her family – because undoubtedly she would have felt they were –  she has been used for experiments ever since – alcohol use, oral contraceptives, aging, and cognitive studies. She has also given birth six times, and I have no information about her babies. Researchers  obviously didn’t take these opportunities to study chimp maternal behaviours, feeding techniques etc. And they obviously didn’t study grief in Non- Human Primates when deprived of their babies either.

Chimpanzees tend to be used repeatedly over decades, rather than used and killed as with most laboratory animals. But researchers lament that one of the disadvantages of using non- human primates is that they can be difficult to handle, and various methods of physical restraint have to be used. (Researchers also shorten the term to NHP, which makes these intelligent, feeling creatures sound like a tool or non- human object)

Yes, I would resist researchers /torturers, since I have 98.8 per cent the same DNA as these almost human creatures, which is why they are used for research and called non human primates. A ‘gentle-man’ (I use the word sarcastically) from the Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Centre writes that scientists may be unaware of the way their research animals are treated, and this could have an effect on their results. He doesn’t say that it would be fear or despair skewing the results.

This scientist, called Reinhardt, writes instead,  of ‘uncontrollable methodological variables’, and goes on: ‘Numerous reports have been published demonstrating that non-human primates can readily be trained to cooperate rather than resist during common handling procedures such as capture, venipuncture, injection and veterinary examination.’

Reinhardt then lists common restraint methods as: squeeze-back cages, manual restraint, restraint boards, restraint chairs, restraint chutes, tethering, and nets. He also suggests using the drug ketamine, which I know from recent personal experience in the helicopter on the way to hospital (see a previous blog) paralyses you and causes terrifying hallucinations. When you’ve survived those, you come to, and find you can think clearly, and therefore know you’re paralysed and can do nothing to defend yourself or even turn your head, which is also a terrifying experience.

In the US 65,000 non- human primates were used for experiments in 2012 – a figure which has remained the same since 1973. The latest figures for the UK are 2,202 non- human primates used for experiments. But no licences have been issued there for experiments on great apes since 1998. Many countries are now working towards protection for these creatures so near to us in intelligence and all emotions – which is why they are used for experiments of course.

The Great Ape Project (GAP), argues that great apes (gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos) be given limited legal status and the protection of three basic interests: the right to live, the protection of individual liberty, and the prohibition of torture.

In 2008 Spain became the first country to extend these rights to great apes,  ‘torture’ which includes medical experiments will be outlawed, while imprisonment –  as in circuses, or for films – is also banned.  Hurray! Austria, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK are all now working to ban experimenting on primates, which includes great apes, chimps, gibbons and all the other varieties used in what some scientists believe is unreliable testing. The EU has also had strict guidelines  on animal testing since 2013.

At the moment great apes are the most protected, with too many other species of non- human primates still fair game for people/researchers who will never say their work is ended, that their experiments have now proved/discovered all that they wanted to know, and thus talk themselves out of a job. I used to love reading in the newspaper the results of experiments which reveal different characteristics in people, until I suddenly realised that to find out these results, animals had to have been used.

That’s when I began to research the use of animals in experimentation, and the facts are hideous. Millions of animals other than non- human primates are used for cruel and useless experiments every year in the US, by drug or chemical companies and others who have no interest in the well- being of the tragic creatures born in captivity, tortured with cruel experiments, and then killed.

We have become the Non-Humane Primates.

Charles Darwin held that animals had the same emotions as human beings. Years ago I read an article in Time magazine which quoted instances of animal intelligence, and their capacity for emotion. At the end, it dismissed the whole idea, in spite of the last conclusive example, a talking parrot.

The pet parrot was being left at the vet for treatment and it cried out as his owner left, ‘please don’t leave me – I’ll be good’. The article did not explore the various strands of this cry – the parrot’s immediate understanding that he was being left, as well as his promise to be good – which is the response of many small children when left in hospital or when their parents die, or leave. They believe it is their fault.

Many will have seen the Youtube videos of Christian, the huge lion, rushing a year later, to put his arms around his owners who had brought him from London and freed him to live in Africa; or the lion behind bars in a zoo, trying to cuddle the woman who had saved him five years before.

Most people who have lived with animals know the depth of their love, loyalty, kindness. Animals nurture their offspring, and do not neglect or abuse them. They do not lie or betray (unless they’ve been badly treated) and therefore can be said to live lives of integrity that many human beings fail to do. And we feel free to treat them in the unspeakable way that we do.

Nature writer Henry Beston says it best: ‘We need another and a wiser and perhaps more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilisation surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby…. the whole image in distortion,

‘We patronise them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate in having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.

‘They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow travellers of the splendour and the travail of the earth.’

When will we begin to honour and respect our fellow travellers, who too often never get to savour the splendour of the earth?

Food for threadbare gourmets

Nothing much in the cupboard, except bacon, spinach, mushrooms and opened noodle packets with the chicken stock packet used for other purposes. So, lots of noodles to use up.

Chopped the bacon and fried it in a little olive oil and some butter for the taste, added the mushrooms, grated a courgette in for thickening, and then added cream, garlic, pepper, and nutmeg plus a chicken stock cube. When the cream had bubbled and thickened, I added torn leaves of spinach – subtle way of getting vegetables into those who don’t like them.

Towards the end, I cooked the instant noodles, and then served them with the cream mixture over and some grated parmesan.  A good lunch.

Food for thought

 I believe deeply that children are more powerful than oil, more beautiful than rivers, more precious than any other natural resource a country can have.

Danny Kaye   Comedian

He also said: Life is a great big canvas; throw all the paint  you can at it.


Filed under animals/pets, consciousness, cookery/recipes, life and death, life/style, Thoughts on writing and life, uncategorised, Uncategorized

39 responses to “Man and animals caught in the net of life and time

  1. We are as one on this Valerie. I can’t abide animal cruelty including use in testing. It’s abhorrent. I grew up on a farm, but outside cropping, horticulture or viticulture could never have been a farmer or farmed animals, which have deep emotional lives: cows are cliquey with groups of friends (and can be positively bitchy to each other 🙂 ) and they mourn their friends when they ‘disappear’.

    In a couple of centuries humans will look back on this period in history and understand we were barbaric in our treatment of animals. Not just testing and farming, but using animals for our entertainment, (although that latter is finally seeing a change).

    And this from Arthur Schopenhauer:

    “Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.”

    … or woman.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I knew you would ‘resonate’ with this Mark – I’m conscious in everything that you write that there is this underlying compassion for animals…
      Loved the Schopenhauer remark…
      Are you familiar with the amazing Peter Singer, vegetarian professor in Melbourne who’s devoted his life to animals and gives away half his salary… his book is called Animal Liberation, if my memory is right – my books are still packed away, and he calls the way we treat animals speciesism.
      Like you, he says we will look back and see it in the same context as sexism and racism in the future…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for this eloquent advocacy of the many other species with whom we share our Planet, Valerie. Human cruelty never ceases to horrify me. 😥

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Dear Margarita,
    Thank you. It was hard to write, as I feel so emotional about it.
    Lovely to know you feel the same…though of course I knew you would !!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I despair at times, how cruel humans can be, not only to other species, but even to our own. The story of the parrot is heartbreaking. Thank you for this sad reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s very late coming but I’m so happy to see safeguards put in place to protect these animals.The terrible things done to them in the name of science or big business doesn’t bear thinking about.
    xxx Huge Hugs Valerie xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Henry Beston puts it perfectly.
    It takes utter idiots to come to conclusions that animals do not feel emotion, or that they cannot reason. Anyone can disprove both by simple observation and the very reasoning which they don’t use, and then say the animals are lacking!
    It is surprising that Spain is so advanced in attitudes to experiments, yet so backward when it comes to things like bullfighting, treatment of their dogs, and the European fondness for hunting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, good friend, I too was surprised knowing the ordinary Spanish attitude to animals – I have a cousin who spends six months every year at a Spanish refuge centre for horses, trying to re-habilitate them after brutal/ignorant treatment… I can only assume that their Parliament is filled with more civilised men and women!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Valerie,

    My screen is blurring as I type and at that, I have no words. I’m not well versed on primates but have had dogs and cats as pets. No one loves more unconditionally. I have seen the video of the lion trying to cuddle his former owner after five years and similar videos. Another video I’ve seen is of elephants weeping as one of their own passes away. The pets we’ve had over the years have been a comfort. I had a dog who would whimper and snuggle when I cried. I’ve said all that in my rambling comment to say that your article touched me deeply as well as angered me.
    On a happier note, I adored Danny Kaye. One of the minor characters in my third novel is Daniel Kaminsky (Kaye’s birth name) and is very much like the original in his sense of humor and love for children.
    Thank you for writing.

    Love and shalom,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rochelle
      Thank you for your heart felt response … yes, I was angry, and it was hard to write without too much anger showing !
      Another friend has re-blogged it, and someone read her page and put it on Facebook. I just wish I could get the facts to everyone… it’s something I think we should all know about as the first step to stopping the torture and abuse of animals who have no voice.

      Yes, I remembered his name was Daniel Kaminsky … another talented immigrant !!!!!
      I loved your comment, thank you,
      Love Valerie


  8. Important – if heart-rending – information, Valerie. Anyone who thinks animals don’t feel emotion has never spent quality time around them.

    Thank you for this. xo

    Liked by 2 people

  9. You have me in tears. Reblogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on Writer Site and commented:
    My love for animals is why I an reblogging Valerie’s important post today on Valentine’s Day.


    • Dear Luanne, I am so grateful to you for re-blogging this, and only wish others had thought of it as a way to get the facts spread wider. The more people who know, the less excuse there is for allowing the torture and abuse of animals.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. A testament to the enduring power of courage that is exhibited by our fellow creatures. There are consequences to what humanity has done, in the name of science and progress, to those who walk with us on this planet. I often think of the words of William Wilberforce. “You may choose to look the other way by you can never say again that you did not know.”


    • Dear Rebecca, as usual you have come up with the perfect quote – how do you do it?

      Wiillam Wilberforce is one of my favourite people … I took my grand-children to see the film Amazing Grace, his story – did you see it?

      Yes, I sometimes wonder what the consequences for us all will be for our inhumane and careless treatment of all creatures on earth….

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This is a topic near and dear to my heart, Valerie. I can’t go to zoos any more because I feel too badly for the “prisoners” (even if they are in a quasi natural environment). Animal testing? More like animal torture for few gains in true understanding. There must be better ways with all the modern technology we have. Only people who haven’t opened their hearts to animals think that animals are lesser beings. I’m vegan for a reason!


    • Yes, Lorna, I too never go near Zoos, have avoided them for over forty years, no matter how much they boast of their natural surroundings..
      And yes, I agree, you’d think by now we would have come up with better ways,,, and maybe we could have except that all the people who make a living out of animal testing are never going to admit that there’s no point, and lose their livelihood…
      I wish these facts could go round the world…
      Thank you for reading and commenting, ,much appreciated, as ever.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I am finding it hard to type…you did an excellent job with this article and it needs to go viral . I am a huge lover of animals and a strong believer that all animals have emotions and feelings. On a sidebar note…if anyone has ever flicked a spider off your shirt you realize that the spider also experiences the same fear and need to fight and protect itself —very evident in it’s up raised legs in attack mode. The whole world is alive and full of thoughts and emotions.


  14. Thank you Linda. I know exactly what you mean about the spider… I have a spider catcher – a glass and piece of card to re-home the ones I find indoors!

    Yes, I found it hard to type too, as I wrote the story… and when I found the facts felt so angry as well as heart-broken.

    I wish these facts Could go viral, Luanne has kindly re-blogged it, and it would be wonderful if everyone who read it did the same !!!


  15. Dearest Valerie,

    Please read the short story ‘Jerry was a Man’ by Robert Anson Heinlein, a link to which I have posted below. It is worth the time and directly supports the truth of your post with undeniable logic.

    The light that you are shines brightly in this week’s post. Thank you for writing it and living it.




    • Thank you so much dearest friend, as always you give me gifts I cannot really thank you for. I’ve read the story, and it is so apt and brilliant. Thank you for it and for your beautiful comment, with love, of course, Valerie


  16. Good posts, beautiful blog.
    Welcome to see my creations:


  17. What a moving piece Valerie, I love this quote you share, there is so much value in it:

    In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.

    The story of Wenka is so sad, how she manages to live so long is astounding, animals certainly know how to be authentic and their lives would be natural were it not for our many terrible interventions.


  18. The latest outrage from the Trump Administration is a proposal to simply terminate the Environmental Protection Agency on December 31, 2018. Keep your posts coming Valerie, we need voices like yours around the globe more than ever.


  19. I wish my voice went further than it does, Judi. It’s great that Luanne has re-blogged the story and one of her readers put it on Facebook… but that is all…


  20. I abhor cruelty to animals, and using them for experiments is horrific. I purposefully only buy products (household items, cosmetics etc.) which haven’t been tested on animals. I’m also a vegetarian and struggle with the fact that most meat is still factory farmed. Mahatma Gandhi said ‘The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated’ – you’re right, we have turned into non-humane primates. And yet many people turn a blind eye to what goes on in those experimentation labs.

    Your piece about the chimpanzee experiments reminded me of a book I read by Karen Joy Fowler, ‘We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves’.


    • Thank you for your lovely comment grace.. love Gandhi’s quote, and the sound of Karen Joy Fowler’s book which I will investigate..
      I agree, modern agribusiness, with farm animals treated like products is awful… luckily here in NZ we have ” Freedom ” foods, which comply with the RSPCA’a rules, about freedom from cruelty, freedom to roam etc.
      I only buy stuff with their blue tick, and organic foods… and take my specs with me into the supermarket to read every label and make sure I know where every item has come from… there are some countries I don’t buy from….

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Just finished reading Henry Beston’s The Outermost House Valerie and the first page I highlighted a passage from was this quote you mention from him, delighted to be reminded about it again in your wonderful post. I don’t think I realised when I read this the first time that it was a quote from a book sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. I love how you had his quote at your fingertips for this.


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