Posted in 02/09/2008

(Article published at Globo on line on August, 29th, 2008)

by Adriana Freitas

RIO DE JANEIRO – Two chimpanzees who were apprehended by Ibama during a operation in circus "Le Cirque", in Brasilia, one month ago, are doing well and are recovering from the stress of the entertainment life. With no teeth, castrated and with wounds caused by chains, these animals were taken to a Sanctuary in Sorocaba – which is affiliated to Great Ape Protection Project (GAP) – where another 46 chimpanzees live. In Brazil, there are three more sanctuaries affiliated to the international Project: one in Vargem Grande Paulista and one in Ibiúna, both in São Paulo state, and one in Curitiba (Paraná).

In total, in these sanctuaries live 74 chimpanzees who had suffered from mistreating.

In the life of the Cuban businessman, naturalized Brazilian, Pedro Ynterian, 68 years old – who is the current international president of the Project – there is no lack of unconditional love that transformed the life of chimpanzees who came from circus or zoos or who used to belong to people who exploited them with economical purposes.

– I began to get involved with reports of mistreats after a partnership with "Justice Public Department" and Ibama. Rescue a chimpanzee from a mistreating situation is a work that lasts years, until we convince the owners of the circus – told.

The chimpanzees\\\’ sanctuary is beside a conservation reserve that rehome 200 species of native animals, such as birds and monkeys that, victims of illegal actions, were apprehended and taken there. Both occupy an area of 24 alqueires maintained with Pedro\\\’s particular resources.

The businessman started his animal rescue work when he bought the chimpanzee Guga, who is 9 years old today. He realized it was not possible to raise a chimpanzee in a regular house, because the primate needed special care.

We moved to the countryside and got a license with Ibama to manage the reserve – he remembers.

Since then the work and the investment did not stop. As long as many Braziliam cities already prohibit the use of animals in circus, the family of chimpanzees was getting bigger.

I bought Garcia Circus\\\’ farm, where 20 chimpanzees used to live. It was the most secure way to protect them, because other circus had interest in the animals – he recalls.

The great primates that live in the zoos are other issue of concern. Some of them arrive at the sanctuary with high levels of stress and depression and need to take anti-depression medicines, like Prozac.

– The chimpanzees are practically humans: they live in society, are intelligent (like 5-year-old kids). The difference is that they do no speak, but have 99,4% of human DNA. At zoos they are disturbed with the constant exposition and start to mutilate themselves, pulling out parts of the legs. Exactly because they are intelligent, they feel more than the other animals – he tells.

In his property, a team of biologists and veterinarians gives special attention to each one of the animals. Last March, a blind chimpanzee, named Hulk, was able to see again, after 15 years. He was operated by an eye specialist who attends humans.

O Great Ape Project (GAP) is an international movement created in 1994, whose main objective is to fight in order to guarantee the basic rights of life, freedom and non-torture of the great primates – chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos, who are the closest relatives of human beings in the animal kingdom.

GAP was the result of ideas promoted in book with the same name, written by philosophers Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer, who is considered to be one of the creators of the animal rights defense movement in the world.