Carole Noon & Her Dream to Save the Chimps
Save the Chimps (P.O. Box 12220, Ft. Pierce, FL 34979), 2014. 176 pages. 250 photos; hardcover. $24.95.
Reviewed by Merritt Clifton
Opening Doors: Carole Noon & Her Dream to Save the Chimps is the second publishing venture undertaken by the Save The Chimps sanctuary in less than a year. Save The Chimps in September 2013 announced a profit-sharing partnership with Soho Press, that reportedly pays the sanctuary 51% of the net from sales of Colin McAdam’s novel A Beautiful Truth. The novel is loosely based on the stories of several chimpanzees who were raised as surrogate children by researchers from the mid-1960s into the 1980s. Some of these chimps eventually came to Save The Chimps. Opening Doors is the extensively illustrated story of primatologist Carole Noon and how she brought Save The Chimps into existence before her death of cancer at age 59, in May 2009.
Ex-Air Force chimps
Working mostly at Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Zambia, Noon was not a big name in primatology and was barely known at all in animal advocacy when in 1997 she founded Save the Chimps, hoping to win custody of the former U.S. Air Force chimp research colony. The chimps had long been housed by the Coulston Foundation in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and––as the Air Force had not had any use for them in years––were to be given to the Coulston Foundation, then the world’s largest supplier of chimps to laboratories. Suing the Air Force, Noon in 2001 obtained 21 ex-Air Force chimps as part of an out-of-court settlement. When the Coulston Foundation declared bankruptcy in 2003, Noon bought the Coulston facilities in Alamogordo, with the aid of $3.7 million from the Arcus Foundation, and acquired the 266 Coulston animals, mostly chimps, as part of the deal.
Save The Chimps thus evolved in five years from a dream that much of the animal advocacy world thought Noon had no chance of realizing, into by far the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in the world, occupying 12 islands carved into 150 acres outside of Fort Pierce, Florida.
While Noon attracted many funders, by far the greater part of the investment and more than half of the $5 million a year operating expense ever since has come through Arcus Foundation founder Jon Stryker. Mostly behind the scenes until now, Stryker is briefly profiled in Opening Doors, and contributes a preface.