Chimp in Captivity: Jane Meets JoJo


In 1988, Jane Goodall met JoJo, a chimpanzee used for research into HIV/AIDS. (Photo:JGI)    




 “I knelt down in front of JoJo, and he reached as much of his hand as he could between the thick bars that formed a barrier between us. The bars were all around him, on every side, above and below. He had already been in this tiny prison for at least ten years; ten years of utter boredom interspersed with periods of fear and pain. There was nothing in his cage save an old motor tire for him to sit on. And he had no opportunity to contact others of his kind. I looked into his eyes. There was no hatred there, only a sort of gratitude because I had stopped to talk to him,. Helped to break the terrible grinding monotony of the day. Gently he groomed the ridges where my nails pressed against the thin rubber of the gloves I had been given, along with mask and paper cap. I pushed my hand in between the bars and, lips smacking, he groomed the hairs on the back of my wrist, peeling the glove down.

JoJo’s mother had been shot in Africa. Could he remember that life? I wondered. Did he sometimes dream of the great trees with the breeze rustling through the canopy, the birds singing, the comfort of his mother’s arms? I thought of David Greybeard and the other chimpanzees of Gombe. I looked again at JoJo  as he groomed me, and my vision blurred. Not for him the freedom to choose each day how we would spend his time and where and with whom. There was no comfort for him of soft forest floor or leafy nest high in the treetops. And the sounds of nature were gone too, the tumbling of the streams, the roar of the waterfall through the dim greens and browns of the forest world, the winds rustling and sighing in the branches, the scuttlings of little creatures moving through the leaves, the chimpanzee calls rising, so clear, from the distant hills. 


--from Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey, by Jane Goodall



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