Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Family, friends, and fellow ape advocates are reasons to be thankful

I am thankful whenever I see beauty, experience grace, observe justice, taste goodness, or hear love. But even more than all of that, I am thankful…

...that Patti Ragan's soft spoken determination and compassion led her to use her own money to build the Center for Great Apes -- a home for chimpanzees and orangutans, and an inspiration to thousands of people

…for Richard Zimmerman’s resolute determination to rescue orangutans and educate Americans with his sensational Orangutan Outreach

...that I knew the Detroit Zoo chimps, and that all U.S. zoo chimp shows are closed forever
…that Shawn Thompson wrote his blog, Intimate Ape, and gave me the motivation to tell my story as Chimp Trainer’s Daughter

…that Liliana Bachelder is the kind of loyal friend who gives her unwavering support for my decisions, helped me through divorce court, and is always available for a Johnny Depp movie

…for the reappearance in my life of old Sing Out Detroit / Up With People classmates and friends: for Jeff Peterson’s droll and insightful wit; for Jennifer Kundak’s dedication to libraries, fair trade, and Ringo; for Susie Bognaski’s gentle compassion for people and animals; for Carla Wagner Campbell’s friendship that picked up right where we left off in 1970; for Freddy Dillard’s smart and fun Sunday news; and for De O’Brien’s understanding

…that Alexis Johnson shares her unique and delightful observations of life’s inanities

…that Nancy DeGrazia LoCascio is a beautiful living reminder that a daughter can inherit the goodness embodied by a father’s life

…for Dan DeGrazia’s lifelong affinity for altruistic adventure

…for Melanie Bond’s insightful questions and inspirational dedication to great apes

…that Cheryl Kaikkonen is such a kind and loving cousin that she takes the rap for spilling the beans about Santa Claus, and that Diane O’Leary is calmly determined to maintain and strengthen family connections

...that Jen Feuerstein is absolutely correct in all of her observations about politics, chimpanzees, and life in general

...that Miriam linked early to my blog from her blog, Der Hund der Philosophin, introducing me to bloggers' etiquette even though we write in different languages  

…that Laura Bonar (Animal Protection of New Mexico) and Jennifer Ball (Humane Society of the U.S.) turn their love for animals into action by advocating for those who can’t speak for themselves

…that Bobby is back in my life

…for David Kennedy’s nonjudgmental approach to life that lets him maintain friendships with both my first ex-husband and me (how amazing is that?!)

…that Tina Gilbert-Schenck inspires me every day with her strength and spirit

…that Tom Heitz uses his strong moral compass in taking care of Yerkes’ chimpanzees

...that Anne Sundermann is just about the nicest rescuer of dogs, rivers, and badly written technical reports you'll ever want to meet

...for Paul Murphy, and The Bartlett Society, for keeping zoo history alive and accessible

…for fellow ape lovers (including Diane Robertson Beatty, Colleen Tyler Reed, Fran Boland, Gary Simpson, Beth Levine, and Theresa Williams), who never fail to lift my spirits with their FB observations on (human and ape) life

…that Holly Draluck recognized her own life experiences when she looked into the eyes of an orphaned orangutan, and created Missing Orangutan Mothers (M.O.M.), observed by more zoos every year

…that Liz Ardito is the kind of friend (even though she liked Paul and I liked John) who will give me her honest opinion about everything from Summer Blonde hair color in 1964 to PTSD today

…for ape caregivers like Terri Hunnicutt, who use practical skills and expertise to transform tragedy into promise for so many apes

…for Max Block’s unbelievable knowledge about every gorilla in U.S. zoos, for the entrepreneurship and determination of young blogger Brandon Wood (Make a Chimp Smile), and for the hope for the future that they are

…that Michelle Desilets evidently has a highly tuned bullshit detector, and that she won't give up on Fiver Fridays for the Orangutan Land Trust

…that Steve Ross gives me his plain-spoken and expert perspective on any chimpanzee care issue that I ask him about, and directs ChimpCARE as an honest broker for chimp welfare

…that Judith Green understands that Caesar is home

…that Philip and Roberta Herman use their talent to produce delightful ape art to benefit sanctuaries

…for a good job working with dedicated colleagues, and for the honor of being a federal employee

…for the cats in my life who don’t let me forget that their ancestors were once worshipped as gods

…for 11 years with a terrible terrier who fills every day with excitement and unconditional love

...for the luck to be living in this time, and this place

... and that more than 10,000 visits to this blog have given me an incredible opportunity to share my memories and my opinions, for which I am and will remain forever thankful.


  1. Beautifully written, Dawn! Thanks for all your wonderful work on behalf of animals.

  2. Always enjoy what you write, and admire your dedication.

  3. Thank you Dawn! I am humbled by your recognition, and will try to live up to the high standards you set for us!
    Have a wonderful holiday, and keep inspiring us with your writing.

  4. Barbara, you are a dear. As I follow your supremely high level of blogging on NPR, your kind words mean a lot to me. Thank you.

    Thank you, Gail. My admiration comes back to you, as I read how deeply you care for friends, family and, most recently, last week's firefighters.

    Melanie, you've already surpassed high standards! You are a legend at National Zoo, and one of my icons. Have a great Thanksgiving! I hope you are sharing it with my favorite apes.

  5. Hey, it's so sweet to have me in your list! I guess I should start celebrating Thanksgiving, it is good to remember we have a lot to be thankful for...

    Thankful for having found you,