Protesters from the homeless community lined up outside the NIH recently, demanding funding for housing assistance. Protesters sported signs reading “I want my 1,000 square feet too!” and “Havens for all.” Arlo Twiddle, spokesperson for the homeless community, iterated the protesters demands. “It has come to our attention that NIH is providing funding for retired research chimps to live in a glamorous haven, with fresh fruit and nutritious meals, toys, activities and even concert performances. Meanwhile, I and thousands of other homeless live under bridges and in boxes in back alleys. We are only asking for the same dignity for ourselves that the government is providing for, well, frankly, wild monkeys.”
Nina Bodewell, spokesperson for Chimp Haven, only partially disputes Twiddle’s claim. “As nearly everyone knows, chimpanzees are in fact great apes, and not monkeys,” Bodewell noted at a recent news conference. However, as to Twiddle’s claims that the Chimp Haven is a plush chimpanzee resort, Bodewell had no rebuttal. Sources close to the news have found the following information regarding the amenities at Chimp Haven, the sanctuary to which the NIH is sending retired research chimps.
“They’ll get a daily assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables along with their nutritionally balanced biscuits. They’ll have toys to play with, from balls and backpacks to anything else that’s safe and might amuse them — one Christmas, they got donated books — and even concerts. Drummers and other musicians have been brought in to play for them, and administrative associate Steve Snodgrass sometimes plays “lyrical” Irish fiddle tunes…”*
NIH has even laid out their requirements for what is an acceptable area for the retired chimps:
“Research chimpanzees should be kept in groups of at least seven, with about 1,000 square feet of outdoor space per chimp — roughly one-sixth of an acre for a group of seven, according to the proposal. The space must include year-round outdoor access with a variety of natural surfaces such as grass, dirt and mulch, and enough climbing space to let all members of large troupes travel, feed and rest well above the ground, and with material to let them build new nests each day, the report said. Chimp Haven’s enclosures range from a quarter-acre to five acres, some of them forested and all with climbing structures.” *
Twiddle and others in the homeless community remain ardent in their intent to continue the protest until they get a hearing for their grievances.” If the government refuses to provide us with similar housing and amenities, we plan to infiltrate Chimp Haven and live in the chimp resort. After all, at 1,000 square foot per chimp, roughly the size of a two-bedroom apartment, there should be plenty of room for our community to share this space. Personally, I’d be happy with 500 square feet, and maybe a few left-over biscuits that the chimps have rejected.”
NIH officials remain silent on the homeless protesters demands.
*Research chimps may be headed from lab to leisure, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=170043901
© Huffygirl 2013