First aired on The Sunday Edition (24/07/11)
Running a rescue centre for traumatized great apes takes guts and empathy, qualities that Gloria Grow has in spades.
Grow is the founder of Fauna Sanctuary, the only chimpanzee sanctuary in
Canada. She says it's a cross between a mental institution, a maximum
security prison, a daycare centre and a New York deli during lunchtime
The centre, which Grow and her veterinarian husband opened in 1997 near
Chambly, Quebec, houses chimps rescued from research labs, zoos and
The animals, who bear the psychic and physical scars of years of
experimentation and human cruelty, and Grow are the subjects of a
compelling new book The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary. The author, Andrew
Westoll, spent months there as a volunteer caregiver, getting a close-up
view of what it's like to rehabilitate these traumatized creatures.
Westoll, who had initially studied to be a primatologist, says he knew
that he had to immerse himself in this environment to be able to write
"You can't really get to know them unless you spend a lot of time with
them," Westoll said in a recent interview with CBC's The Sunday Edition.
"That's something I learned as a scientist."
In the book, Westoll describes Grow's efforts to form relationships
with these animals, many of whom were subjected to brutal laboratory
experiments involving lethal human viruses.
"[She] had to build this trust over an incredibly long period of time
with these chimps to make them see that she was there to help them and
not to hurt them. The physical stuff is there but the psychological
journey of getting to know these chimps and making them realize that
they're in a safe place — that's the real struggle she had to deal
The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary
by Andrew WestollBuy this book at:
"In 1997 Gloria Grow started a sanctuary for chimps retired from biomedical research on her farm outside Montreal. For the indomitable Gloria, caring for thirteen great apes is like presiding over a maximum security prison, a Zen sanctuary and an old folks' home all rolled into one. But she is first and foremost creating a refuge for her troubled charges — a place where they can recover and begin to trust humans again.
Brimming with empathy and winning stories of Gloria and her charges, The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary is an absorbing, big-hearted book that grapples with questions of just what we owe to the animals who are our nearest genetic relations."
Read more at HarperCollins Canada.