"All we have to do is give them half a chance. They'll do the rest." (Carole Noon, Ph.D.)
Dr. Carole Noon is a heroine in so many ways. Researchers and others working with and for chimpanzees (and other animals) know of her, but many who should and would love to do not. A new book by renowned wildlife and conservation writer Gary Ferguson called Opening Doors: Carole Noon and Her Dream to Save the Chimps is a wonderful and heartwarming and heart-wrenching story of Dr. Noon's tireless and selfless work on behalf of these most amazing beings at the sanctuary she founded in Fort Pierce, Florida, called Save the Chimps. Not only did Dr. Noon found Save the Chimps with much help from Jon Stryker and The Arcus Foundation, but she also studied chimpanzees in Africa. Save the Chimps is the world's largest sanctuary for chimpanzees rescued from biomedical research, entertainment, and the horrific pet trade.
Windows to the soul: Never say never
Chimpanzees truly are windows into the soul. When you look into their expressive eyes you can clearly see how wise and knowing they are. You can also see the range, richness, and depth of their emotional lives. They want and need what we want and need -- namely to live in peace and safety, absent peace and suffering. And that's not asking too much.
Innumerable people around the world know of the incredible work that people such as Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birutė Galdikas have done to save our closest cousins: chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. However, there also are innumerable people "working behind the scenes", on the ground, who rescue and take care of animals who are fortunate to live out the rest of their lives in peace and safety, absent horrific abuse to which they have been exposed in many different venues, including research laboratories.
Dr. Noon gives us many reasons to keep ours and the animals' hopes and dreams alive. I highly recommend this wonderful biography of Dr. Noon and many of the chimpanzees she and her co-workers have saved, including Amy, Dana, Hannah, Gromek, and Tarzan. As noted primatologist Professor Geza Teleki says in the Afterword about the amazing work that Dr. Noon did her in short life of 60 years, "To get that sanctuary off the ground would've for most people been the work of several lifetimes. This was a Mount Everest. But she never gave up and she never gave in."
Dr. Carole Noon's inspirational story, captured in Opening Doors, is a must-read because it shows just how much a person who never says "No" or "Impossible" can achieve. Tenacious while working relentlessly against all odds and against powerful people who did not want to give up the chimpanzees they claimed they owned and who needed to be used in research because otherwise humans would suffer, Dr. Noon decided her mission in life was to save chimpanzees and she accomplished more than anyone would have imagined. Thank you to Dr. Noon and to all of the people who supported and continue to support her and her co-workers' efforts to save the lives of chimpanzees and to call attention to the abuse that they and numerous other animals endure.
Dr. Noon is an incredible role model for all human beings.
Note: For more on the history of chimpanzees who have been used in research please read about and watch a video of Wesleyan University Professor Lori Gruen's incredible research.
Marc Bekoff's latest books are Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears (with Jill Robinson; see also), Ignoring Nature No More: The Case for Compassionate Conservation (see also), and Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed (see also).