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Monday, August 25, 2014

Unauthorized Happiness

Sometimes it gets very hot here. The temperature goes up to a hundred degrees or thereabouts, and everything outside seems droopy. But Bow loves the heat and the sunshine, and luckily for us the outer pen is facing east, which means that in the late afternoon it is shaded by the house. Bow can go out there and enjoy the heat and the light of the sun, but it's not too much to bear.

The bidens by the road seem to be the only flowers entirely unaffected by the heat.

Nobody authorized those flowers to grow there. Nobody planted or watered them. And if they die, nobody will weep for them, either. But when I went to check the mail yesterday afternoon, there they were, happy and cheerful, ready to greet me.

There are official flowers, and then there are weeds. But you can't count on official flowers to be there for you in a pinch. It's the weeds that help in an emergency, because they take care of themselves. Likewise, there are official fleets and there are "pirates", but who really comes to the rescue, when the government does not care if you win or lose as long as the taxes are paid?

There are official conservationists and then there are amateurs, but who really gives a damn about the Monarch butterflies?

There are official apes, and there are illegitimate apes. There are apes whose existence is authorized, and then there are "illegitimate pregnancies". One of the most astounding claims in the Slate article that I linked last time was that Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh was accused of allowing an unauthorized pregnancy to take place among the bonobos. Unauthorized by whom?

If the pregnancy took place during Savage-Rumbaugh's tenure as chief researcher, who else could authorize it but her? And what exactly was she supposed to do? Set up a puritanical set of human-based mores to teach to the bonobos to keep them from conceiving? In the name of conservation, no less?

Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Teco

They're talking about little Teco. They think he should not exist. By what right?

The fact is that if you are an "official" researcher and have access to "official" apes, then you come under a very strict set of Federal laws, and your establishment is run by a committee, and your employees get to tell you what to do. For instance, the veterinarians and the caretakers do not answer to the person that hired them They answer to the Feds. Once you understand this arrangement, you start to understand why both the bonobo and the gorilla researchers are constantly under fire by their own underlings.

Even though their establishments are ostensibly private institutions, because they have succumbed to temptation of public funding, even if it's just in the form of a non-profit, they have allowed their apes to be nationalized. They have lost the most basic rights of ownership and control. The sanctuaries and zoos, likewise, are not really private institutions, even though they fall within the "private sector." All these apes are under the government thumb.

Bow is not an official chimpanzee. My research with him is not "authorized". I am just a private person, like any other. We are not an institution. It's a home. This means, among other things, that we are not merely banished from the Federal funding system. We are also not allowed to meet with any ape within that system. I don't think the public in whose name this is being done knows that, and I do think it is time that they knew.

We are free, and we are separated, but our seclusion is not something we have chosen. Instead, it is another kind of segregation that the government has put into effect. Illegitimate chimpanzees are not to mingle with official apes.

However, in a pinch, just like the privateers and the weeds at the side of the road, an unofficial ape can come in handy, can save the day, can bring happiness.

So here's to unauthorized happiness and to wildflowers wherever they may grow!


  1. Aya, thank you for including a link to my blog post! I had no idea that Bow is an 'unofficial' chimpanzee and is not allowed to meet with the 'official' chimpanzees. Oh, the government and their stupid, stupid rules and "one size fits all" mindset.
    But now I understand why you want to avoid any strings that may attach you to the government. Wow! What a myriad of hurdles and messes that would cause!
    Love your title of the post. It's very fitting. It's a shame that you and Bow are likely to accomplish so much, yet can't get funding help due to the ignorant regulations that were probably written by some idiot who had no idea about the subject matter.

    1. Thanks, Kathy. I think we are all dealing with government created messes, in so many areas of life. Your example with the milkweed was just perfect for the point I needed to make. The sad fact is that without even trying to hinder or thwart us in our efforts, the unintended consequences of government interventions are enormous.

  2. The old adage, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions", is so true. I sometimes wonder about the intelligence levels of government employees. Seriously. I worked for them for a few years and the laziness in our govt. is maddening.