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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

When Bow is Not in the Spotlight

Bow has an immense presence. If you enter into Bow's space, it's going to be very hard to ignore him.

 Bow has a way of interjecting himself into every conversation, of being in the spotlight more often than not.

But sometimes, it's not about Bow. Sometimes Bow is not in the spotlight. Sometimes he's just in the  background. For instance, I launched my book, Theodosia and the Pirates on March 16. So a lot of my activity has been centered on promoting the book, rather than promoting Bow. Because my attention was focused on this, I did not notice that HB284 was somehow voted on and taken out of committee on March 28.


We are very much in danger now, and I just didn't seem to get the message about this going up for another vote. But my informant in Jefferson City did ask that I call my state legislator, now that the bill is likely to go to the floor. I was cautioned, however, not to share this information on FB, because then the "Animal Rights Activists" might see it and rise up against us. That confuses me.

Mine is a household with only a single voter. I can vote. Bow can't. Sword can't. Neither can the dogs. If I can't share our struggle with the general population and ask that everybody help to defeat HB284, then aren't we already beaten?

This is advice that I have been getting a lot lately. Stay quiet. Don't make any noise. Don't let people know that you represent a viewpoint that is not favored in the media. Yes, tell people that you work on ape language research. But don't tell them that you're not part of the establishment. Don't tell them that you are actually a private owner and that you support private property rights. Don't speak up for other animal owners. Make it clear that you can do this, because you are an expert and you are special, but deny that other people can do it, too.

I would never tell someone that they cannot do what I do. I would, however, caution them about all that is involved. In the same way, I would never say to someone: don't have a child. But I would say: if you're going to have a child, make sure that you have the time and resources to take care of it. Be able to stay home with your child, or if you can't, make sure another family member can. Or if no family member can devote full time to caring for the child, make sure that you have enough resources to pay someone else to take care of your child full time.

An article that explores the issue of what it takes to be responsible in primate or other exotic animal ownership can be found here:

Responsible Care of Primates

I am committed to Bow. Even though the animal language experiment that we originally embarked on has not yielded bankable results so far, Bow is still a part of my family, and I am still his primary caretaker. Like all responsible parents, I also need to make sure that our family is on a good footing financially. That means that Bow is not always in the spotlight. Sometimes he is in the background. Sometimes I go out and give talks about my books, and when I do that, Lawrence stays with Bow. Other times, like many a working mother, I continue to work on things that have nothing to do with Bow, while I watch over and take care of him.

In the video below, you can see how Bow stays in the background most of the time, even though he does steal the scene once or twice. (He hates the idea of anyone getting captured by pirates.)

Our children can't always be in the spotlight when we are working to earn a living. But if we continue to take care of them while we do our other work, then we are still responsible parents.

It has got to be all right to speak out openly against legislation that threatens our rights. If we keep our opinion that we have the right to exist as some deep, dark secret that can be shared only with our closest friends, then we concede defeat in advance. 

Please join me in calling your legislator today and making sure that HB284  is defeated. Even if you have no desire  to ever own a primate, we all have an interest in keeping our rights as citizens, even the rights we have no intention of exercising. Today, it's non-human primates. But tomorrow, it could be our human children they go after. I am already hearing that parents do not own their children. Where do you suppose they got that idea? 


  1. I am not sure why animal rights activists would have a problem with you staying with Bow. It seems their efforts are misguided if they are concerned with taking chimpanzees at of situations where they thrive. I think there are other legitimate things they could focus on, and not people who treat chimpanzees well.

  2. Thanks, Julia, for your supportive comment. Hopefully enough people realize this, too, and HB 284 will not be passed.