After Years of Abuse, Chimpanzee Finds Joy in Troll Dolls

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3 min read

Born into captivity in 1976, Foxie’s 39 years were not all easy ones. She spent her early days being used as a subject in cruel hepatitis vaccine studies. She was prodded and poked—and then she was used as a breeding machine.

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Chimpanzees are profoundly social, and in the wild, they spend every day together exploring, making and using tools to solve problems, foraging, playing, grooming each other, and making soft nests for sleeping each night. They care deeply for their families and forge lifelong friendships.

However, Foxie doesn’t have this bond with her babies. All four of her babies, including one set of twins, were taken away from her as infants. It’s unknown how old they were when they were taken, but they were seen only as more subjects for cruel experiments.

In 1994, a PETA undercover investigator found 42 chimpanzees imprisoned in tiny cages in the windowless basement of the Buckshire Corporation—a company that supplies animals to laboratories. Foxie was one of these animals. It took 14 years, but finally, with the support of Augustus Club members, PETA contributed $50,000 to help build a new home at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest for the seven remaining chimpanzees from Buckshire to retire to—including Foxie.

When she arrived at the sanctuary in 2008, her caregivers reported that she was cautious of her surroundings and people. It was uncertain how she would cope with life at the sanctuary.

But then Foxie met her first troll doll.

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Over the years, thanks to the relentless love shown to her at the sanctuary, Foxie has flourished into a happy, play-loving chimpanzee who interacts with others of her own kind and the humans who care for her. And in turn, she cares for her hundreds of troll dolls.

She holds them:

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She lies down beside them:

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She carries them:

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She plays with them:

And she plays with other chimpanzees, too:

She never has to worry about anyone taking away anything she loves ever again.

Although Foxie is now enjoying her days playing with her dolls and friends, many other chimpanzees are still languishing in laboratories. After a government panel concluded that experiments on chimpanzees were “unnecessary,” the National Institutes of Health (NIH) promised to retire all federally owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries, but since the announcement, few have actually been retired and many have died while waiting.

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