Eyes on Apes | The Cle Elum Seven | Jody

The Cle Elum Seven: Jody's story

We celebrate Jody's birthday on Mother's Day, in honor of the 9 infants she had but was never able to properly care for as their mother. Jody's records say that she was born in 1975, possibly from the wild, and that she may have spent a few years in a circus. Buckshire purchased Jody, and then in 1981 she was shipped to White Sands to be used in hepatitis research and for breeding. On her tenth day, she had her first knock-down. If her birth year is correct, she was six years old. She was given a new tattoo -- "WSRC #37."

Over the next year and a half, Jody was regularly transferred between cages. Sometimes she was with another female, sometimes by herself, but usually she was with a male for breeding purposes--Max, Mack, John, Magoo, and others all in an attempt to create the next generation of lab chimpanzees.

In January 1983, Jody gave birth for the first time. She was eight years old. The technician's notes read:

1/4/83 -- Delivered infant baby male -- taken away to nursery... Baby -- Male WSRC #66 OPY -- appears healthy.

Jody never got to nurse Opy, or hold him, or carry him on her back, or teach him about the world. She was immediately knocked down with ketamine and her baby was stolen. Six weeks after delivering and losing her first baby, Jody was put into a cage with a male named Rufus for breeding, and the cycle continued. She would go on to have eight other babies--Levi, April, Cliff, Clay, Adam, Andrea, Bart, and Taylor--as well as two miscarriages in just ten years.

11/23/83 -- Delivered healthy infant male #88... removed and taken to nursery (Levi).

6/20/84 -- Found approx. 2-month old fetus & placenta in cage this a.m.

4/26/85 -- Delivered healthy looking baby at 10:30pm... Not taking care of baby. Infant removed to nursery (#119 April). Animal does not appear to be feeling well. Did not eat any fruit this date.

3/15/86 -- Delivered healthy infant early a.m. this date. Mother was leaving infant on the floor -- infant removed & taken to nursery. Appears to be a healthy animal #142 Cliff, male.

5/20/87 -- Delivered healthy male infant between 11:30 and 12:00 pm... Infant male #162 Clay removed and taken to nursery, Mother leaving infant unattended.

4/26/88 -- Pathologist's Note: Bloody mass found in cage -- test indicates spontaneous abortion due to acute, hemorrhagic placentitis

1/4/89 -- Arrived for night checks at 10:15pm… found infant alive in cage no more than one hour old -- mother not taking good care of infant. Removed infant male #0187 -- appeared healthy (Adam).

9/30/90 -- Delivered healthy infant female approx. 4 to 6 a.m. this date. Mother not taking good care of infant -- leaving infant on floor unattended... infant removed to nursery (#215 Andrea).

1/14/92 -- Delivered healthy male at approx. 2:50pm this date. Mother not taking good care of baby. Leaving baby on floor unattended... Infant removed at 4:05pm, taken to nursery. Drew milk out for baby. (#226 Bart).

2/19/93 -- Delivered infant early a.m. this date. 0515 hrs found infant on cage floor. Infant very cold. Removed infant immediately to nursery, mother not caring for infant. Infant male #236 Taylor.

Jody had the potential to be a great mother, but after being stolen from her own mother and forced to live in a lab, where baby after baby were taken from her, she was not attending to her infants the way she would have in a more natural environment. It really isn't at all surprising that Jody wouldn't create a bond with her infants when she had never had one with her own mother. She deserved to be raised with her mother and to learn what it is like to be loved unconditionally, and she deserved the chance to show her own children the same love.

We sadly can't make everything right again, and we can't undo what's been done. But what we can do is honor Jody and make every day more interesting and more exciting than the last. Now she can build elaborate nests with blankets and paper and bamboo shoots if that's what she prefers, she can play wrestle with chimpanzee friends and groom in the comfort of a safe home, and she can explore her expansive open-air enclosure and feel the sun over her--something she likely hasn't felt since she herself was a baby in the forests of Africa.

Jody before and after