Winter 2010

    Issue: Winter 2010

    Table of Contents

    • The words vegetarian and vegan both emerged in England-in the 1840s and a century later, respectively. So it's fitting that plant-based dining has brought some of the most exciting innovations to the British culinary sphere. Rootmaster, founded in 2006 as London's first vegan Bustaurant, wins praise both for its delightful design concept and its attractive menu. The name “Rootmaster” is a pun on those famous (usually red) double-deck buses known as Routemasters.

      The restaurant's creators set out to show us all how to enjoy and have fun with food, beers and wines, the Beatles and Edith Piaf while living in harmony with the planet. It works. (Yes, the bus has a kitchen; and yes, it still can be driven.)

      And the culinary skills of the Rootmaster crew are every bit as creative as we'd expect.

      You'll want to try the Soup of the Moment with freshly baked bread, and do have the gyoza-soft wonton wraps with a carrot and coriander filling-or summer rolls, with organic noodles, vegetables and coriander in soft rice paper and a sweet-hot dipping sauce.

      A Mediterranean Mezze Platter (£10 for two diners) includes hummus, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pickled vegetables, tzaziki (a traditional Middle Eastern condiment) and roasted tomatoes, served with freshly baked bread.

      A lovely main dish is the Cauliflower and Summer Greens Tart with Swiss chard in a creamy tomato sauce wrapped in a home-made pastry and accompanied by a cucumber dill potato salad.

      For dessert, try the chocolate fondant with a rich caramel filling, served with ice cream and a seasonal berry coulis, or the organic cheesecake with seasonal fruit, also served with a berry coulis. Ice creams are also available, served with organic fruits, chocolate-coated nuts, and freshly baked biscotti. But then there is the spiced peach crumble with vanilla ice cream; or the vanilla custard tart topped with chopped pistachios, berries and lemon syrup. Not an easy choice, obviously-so we brought enough people to try a few. We left happy.

      Open seven days and nights a week, Rootmaster is situated in Ely's Yard, part of The Old Truman Brewery, in Hanbury Street, off Brick Lane, an area with many Bangladeshi restaurants. It's a bit off the beaten path so take your map with you when you go.

    • Cheers

      Cheers to Jane Velez-Mitchell, the popular host of CNN’s segment “ISSUES,” for being the special guest speaker at the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriage’s fundraiser on October 4, 2010. Velez-Mitchell is often a voice for animals, and supports Friends of Animals’ and the Coalition’s important work to end the carriage horse industry in cities all over the globe. “ISSUES” airs seven days a week at 7:00 PM (EST) on CNN.

      Jane Velez-Mitchell can be reached at:
      Phone: 1-877-JVM-SAYS
      E-mail: Jane@CNN.com

      Cheers to the following restaurants and bakeries that donated vegan food to the successful Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages fundraiser held in New York City in October 2010: Babycakes NYC, Cafe Blossom, Candle Cafe, Caravan of Dreams, Counter, Franchia, Loving Hut NYC, Zen Palate and GonePie Vegan Bakery. Next time you are in New York City, grab a meal or dessert at any one of these lovely establishments (Gone Pie baked goods can be ordered online).

      Cheers to Friends of Animals, Victoria ( Canada) and Organic Athlete, Victoria, that co-sponsored the Save-A-Turkey-Trot — to raise awareness about animals used in agribusiness and also to promote the benefits of a vegan diet. The event was held just before Thanksgiving in Canada. To learn more, and to find out how you can sponsor a similar event in your area, please visit online:
      http://blog.thevictoriavegan.com/

      Cheers to former President Bill Clinton, who has gone public with the news that he has adopted a mostly plant-based diet. When Clinton appeared on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer,” he discussed the great success he’s had at improving his health. Citing the pioneering work of Caldwell Esselstyn, T. Colin Campbell and others, Clinton talked about how a vegan diet can potentially reverse heart disease. Clinton also talked about losing more than 20 pounds. Even better: What’s good for President Clinton is great for free-living and domesticated farm animals, too! Everyone wins.

      We encourage President Clinton to continue on his plant-based journey. Send words of support to:

      New York Office
      William J. Clinton Foundation
      55 West 125 Street
      New York, NY 10027

      Jeers

      Jeers to leading video game publisher Mastiff, for creating and selling a new video game called “ Deer Drive”— which is described as “a fast-paced hunting simulation featuring hours of pure shooting fun.” Bill Swartz, the so-called Head Woof and CEO at Mastiff, says, “We've come up with a system that literally puts the thrill of hunting into the palm of your hand.”

      Please tell Mr. Swartz that ending the life of another animal, whether virtually or in real life should not be considered sport — or fun, for that matter. Hunting is not ethical or necessary, and neither are morally bankrupt video games.

      Mastiff, LLC
      2762B Octavia Street
      San Francisco, CA 94123
      Phone: (415) 674-6615
      E-mail: swartz@mastiff-games.com

      Jeers to the South Fulton ( Tennessee) Fire Department that allowed three dogs and a cat to die in a house fire because the owner did not pay the $75 non-mandatory annual fee, which is required to receive the fire-fighting service. Allowing someone’s home, possessions and beloved pets to go up in flames over a small fee simply defies good sense — not to mention the fact that it’s heartless and unconscionable.

      Tell South Fulton Mayor David Crocker that this draconian policy needs an immediate revision — before more innocent lives are lost:
      South Fulton City Hall
      Attention: Mayor David Crocker
      515 Siegel Drive
      South Fulton, TN 38257
      Fax: (731) 479-2144

    • An Interview with Farmer Brown: Dustin Rhodes Interviews Harold Brown of FarmKind

      Harold Brown grew up on a “rather typical family farm” that raised beef cattle and kept pigs, goats and rabbits. Harold has explained the ways in which growing up in a farming culture indoctrinates youngsters into a particular view of the place non-human animals occupy in the hierarchy of daily life. Those who pass this view on through the generations are parents, local community, 4-H clubs, agricultural courses at colleges, and, most of all, television.

       As Harold recounts, “Every time I watched a commercial break there was at least one commercial selling one or more animal products.” We can all relate to this, of course – and that’s why Harold’s message speaks to all of us. I was delighted that Harold found time to speak to me and our readers.

      Dustin Rhodes, for Friends of Animals: You started off as a beef and dairy farmer, a hunter…How did you come to view animals in a radically different way?

      Harold Brown: It took several personal crises and meeting a wonderful community of people who created a safe place for me to deconstruct my indoctrination. I think those of us who have done the work we have done, know what we know, and seen what we have seen are afflicted with a type of post-traumatic stress.

      Yet the way I used to consider and treat animals was completely normal for our society. Breaking out of that mold is difficult. But then, anything worthwhile is not easy.

      I've heard you say that a health crisis started you on your vegan journey. Can you elaborate?

      When I was 18 I had a heart attack.

      Mind you, I didn’t know that is what happened to me because I didn’t know what the symptoms of a heart attack were. I was home alone, the pain started in my left shoulder, radiated up to my jaw then down my left arm. The next thing I know I was on the floor looking at the ceiling not able to breathe.

      Just as quickly as it happened, it passed. Being a teenager, I blew it off. I felt fine and didn’t have another episode. Years later my father had his first heart attack and then I learned the symptoms of a heart attack and what heart disease is.

      When I was working for a dairy plant, I was injured on the job. I went to the union doctor. After he received my blood work he sat down with me and explained that if I didn’t change a few things in my life I was on a fast track for by-pass by my mid thirties. As an osteopathic doctor, he had more nutritional education than the doctors I had talked to before.

      A couple of years later, I moved to Cleveland, Ohio where I learned what a vegetarian is — that’s right: in 1990 I hadn’t heard the word vegetarian or known what it meant — and I began listening and reading everything I could get my hands on concerning diet and disease. Within a year I knew I had to adopt a vegan diet if I was to optimize my health.

      Has a plant-based diet been a boon to your health in general?

      And it has been my experience, as well as that of many vegans I have talked with, that a deep shift happens within. Vegans so easily talk about peace, compassion, love and empathy in a way that makes our omnivore friends, family and society feel ill-at-ease. In my opinion, it is because a profound inner peace where these emotions and states of being have a home is not something that can be communicated to others effectively; it is experiential. Eating a plant-based diet is one step toward this, the other step in the journey of consciousness.

      How did you come to found FarmKind? What is the organization's mission and what does it do?

      FarmKind’s mission is to advocate for sustainable agriculture, environmental and social justice, animal rights and peace. After spending a few years working in the animal-husbandry reform movement (or, as it is better known, the animal-protection movement), I realized that If I was going to speak the truth and tie together the ideas of rights and the practices of sustainable agriculture, peace, non-violence and social justice I needed to follow my heart. I don’t see these things as separate. They are all part of the fabric of the human condition and situation.

      For most of my life I observed animal protectionists from the other side of the fence. I didn’t take what they were saying seriously because I knew the message they were sending out sorely underestimated human potential. This is one of the visions I have: creating a new message that can be heard and embraced.

      You are prominently featured in Jenny Stein’s and James LaVeck's new documentary film Peaceable Kingdom – The Journey Home. What's that film about and how did you get involved?

       The film tells the stories of five people who were animal farmers, and two people who ran a sanctuary, and how their lives changed through a journey of consciousness. It also tells the poignant stories of individual animals and how their lives became intertwined with ours.

      Simply observing a goat, or the bond of a hen and her chick, can change a person’s perspective. For more information on the film and its availability on DVD visit www.tribeofheart.org.

      The film is currently being previewed at film festivals all over North America–and winning awards! Obviously, the audience response has been great.

      I have been to a few of the festivals and the response has been amazing. There are two festivals that struck me the most. One was an environmental film festival at Yale University. Consider that this was, I believe, the only film on this topic, and it won the audience award for best documentary. For how long have we heard that environmentalists are closed off to our message? Apparently not.

      The other festival was the Peace on Earth film festival in Chicago. This is a social justice film festival that explores the myriad aspects of injustice. Peaceable Kingdom – The Journey Home won best documentary and a standing ovation. Organizers and festival attendees would say, “Why didn’t I put this together before? If we are to have true peace and justice we must address these issues.”

      When the peace activists, social justice and environmental communities get the message, then we know James and Jenny, along with Eric Huang and Kevin Smith, did something right.

      You emphasize compassion, respect, peace–spiritual ideals–in your animal advocacy. Why are they important?

       These are some of the things that make us human. More than that: they are the better parts of us.

      We cannot expect these things from other people or society unless we sow the seeds and nurture them.

      As much as some would like to believe that legal rights for animals can be a reality once non-human animals have standing, it is still, in my opinion, a moral and ethical question. We must create a society in which compassion, respect, peace, non-violence and justice are second nature, the norm. Once a critical mass of society finds the emotional courage and moral imagination to embrace these practices fully, rights may take care of themselves.

      If enough people can awaken to this new paradigm then our bad behavior toward non-humans — and, I am convinced, toward each other — will subside. Will it ever completely end? I’m an eternal optimist.

      Critics like to insult veganism by calling it a religion. It isn't; but do you think it's fair to say that it does foster a spiritual journey, or, at the very least, awareness?

      It has for me. Spirituality can mean many things but at its core it deals with the human spirit. Veganism is a radical movement, inclusive of all aspects of the biota, our lives, our health, and respect for both humans and non-humans. It is an ethic of unconditional caring and love. It is a moral imperative, the Golden Rule.

      The structure that keeps domination in place is powerful. What advice do you have for remaining hopeful, optimistic— dare I say it— joyful?

      What works for me — and I encourage others to try it — is to spend some time with yourself. Whether in meditation, a walk in the woods, cuddling with your dog or cat, we must find peace within ourselves first.

      I understand the rage and frustration we all feel when we see or learn of the injustices around us. It is a little different for me because I was the perpetrator of some of those horrors and, to be honest, my journey is ongoing. But when we can quiet ourselves enough to ask why we care so damn much the answers come crashing back…we love. So when I become disheartened I look inside, experience the love I have, and give it away.

      My challenge to activists is that we do what we do because we love animals, nature and each other. Let that be what takes you out into the world and be the force of change. We are not so much working to gain legal rights for non-human animals; we are working to change our species’ attitudes and perceptions of our relationships with all that is around us.

      Well-meaning people present animal advocacy as a magic formula— as if there's an exact set of things to say and do that will instantly change the habits and hearts of others. What are your thoughts on how to be the best possible advocate?

      Patience. We need to be the consummate students of human nature and farmers of compassion. When I talk with people I respect the place they are, and see them as fertile ground for planting the seeds I have to offer. But I cannot walk away once I have planted those seeds. A good gardener or farmer knows that we need to cultivate water and shine warm sunshine on the fields.

      What resonates with one person may not with another. Each person is on a different point of their path. Once we understand this, we can join them on their path and walk with them for a while. Ultimately, we all must come to our truths ourselves otherwise they are not our truths.

      Harold, you’ve come to identify yourself as a vegan. What do you say to people who claim they could never be like you?

      I ask them, “How do you know?”

      Buddha once said that the only truth we hold in our personal lives are the things we directly experience. Everything else is information, belief or faith.

      I will usually challenge a person by saying, “What do you have to lose? Try eating a plant-based diet for one year. I’ll help you. And if you are not happier at the end of the year then go find something else.” I have yet to find a person who wasn’t happier at the end of a year.

      We have to be the example others want to follow. The radiance of our good health, the joy in our demeanor, should be a magnet.

      What's next on the horizon for you?

      Keep on doing what I am doing. I see so many amazing personal transformations daily that I feel blessed that I can show up in the world in a way that might have a lasting effect. I am constantly grateful for the many opportunities that come my way to help and be of service. Like this interview. Thank you, Dustin, for thinking of me and feeling that I can contribute to your work to create a better world.

    • Alison Eastwood is an actor, film director, producer, environmentalist and former model who also happens to be the daughter of legendary actor and film director Clint Eastwood.

      Through a series of fortuitous events, Alison recently met Peter Wallerstein, the director of Marine Animal Rescue—a project flourishing in Los Angeles County under the Friends of Animals banner. After getting familiar with Peter’s vital work, Alison pledged to help raise the money for the future Marine Mammal Care Center.

      Dustin Garrett Rhodes spoke to Alison by phone on October 28, 2010—about film, marine mammals, rats, childhood dreams and dangerous toupées, among other subjects. The following conversation has been slightly edited for clarity.

      You wear a lot of hats: actor, film director, producer, model, fashion designer; do you identify with one especially?

      AE: I identify mostly with the acting and directing—working in film. Modeling was really just an excuse for me to go and live in Paris for a year. I wasn’t really ever a “model”; I never aspired to it; I met a great guy in France and then had a great opportunity.

      The clothing line was a great opportunity for me and the friends who started the company to work together; unfortunately, the manufacturing of clothing and a lot of things that are involved in that industry were very difficult for me. It was also hard to balance that with acting and other projects I was doing at the time. So, I had to move on from that.

      I grew up in a family where acting, directing and producing was the family business; that’s what I relate to most.

      You’ve starred in and directed films, even a few alongside your father, Clint Eastwood; what project are you most proud of?

      AE: I am most proud of the film I directed, actually—Rails and Ties (2007). I did get to work with a lot of people in my father’s company. I don’t think I have as much confidence as an actor, but I am really proud of the film and the actors and the crew I worked with. It’s such a big job to have to oversee an entire film from its inception until it’s on the screen.

      You grew up around a lot of artists. How did that shape your interests and what you’re doing today?

      AE: All of this felt natural, like it’s what I should be doing. My dad always had music playing around the house, and now my brother is a jazz musician; I am sure my brother was influenced a lot. I feel the same way. The film and acting, they feel like home for me. Being around movie sets and creative people, writers, directors and actors—all of that feels natural.

      Were you the four-year-old who said “I’m going to be an actor and director when I grow up?”

      AE: No; I was always a huge animal lover, and I actually aspired to be a veterinarian. I always loved animals and felt a need to protect and help them in some way. I thought I’d either be a large animal vet (I grew up loving horses) or even a small animal vet. But then I got into school, and realized all the extra time spent there wasn’t for me. I wasn’t a big lover of school, and the thought of all those extra years just didn’t appeal to me. As I got older, I was drawn to working in a more creative capacity. It just felt more natural to gravitate towards the arts, ultimately.

      I recently read that your father and step-mother, Dina, live with quite a few non-traditional animals—like tortoises, a pig, chickens, a couple of rats…I even read that your dad has a squirrel that visits him at his studio.

      AE: Unfortunately, we never had, like you say, traditional pets like dogs and cats, because my father and brother are both highly allergic to them. But I managed to bring home any animal that somehow needed help. We had rats and rabbits and fish and birds. I am actually sitting here right now next to my pet rat. That’s carried over to today. We’ve rescued a lot of animals. My dad is a really generous person and has a wonderful spirit when it comes to animals. I think that’s been instilled in me too.

      I have heard so many people who live with rats say they’re very smart, curious, interesting and easy to fall in love with. How did you come to live with one?

      AE: My boyfriend wanted to give me a gift a couple of years ago, and he ended up saving a “feeder rat” from becoming food for a snake. He rescued her from “the snake pit,” as we call it. We have totally fallen in love with Ruby; she is the apple of my eye. She goes places with us; I don’t think she knows she’s a rat. She’s a little person, and she gets along great with the dog and the rabbit. Obviously, we keep the cat separated; the sort of natural born enemies (laughs). She’s our little daughter. Very smart and wonderful…We call her Kate Moss, sometimes, even though her name is Ruby. Ruby because of her intense red eyes. We call her Kate Moss when she is looking particularly beautiful. (Laughs.)

      How did you meet Peter Wallerstein and find out about Marine Mammal Rescue Center and Friends of Animals?

      AE: A friend of mine from high school that I am working with, who is also a big animal lover and defender, actually met Peter first. Peter told her about the need for the center and what he did, and then I decided I needed to go out and meet him. We were in the midst of pitching a wildlife rescue TV show; my friend found out about him through researching wildlife rescue in California. Ultimately, we all hooked up and wondered how we could be of service, and how can we help Peter.

      Peter is such a great person; we had fun meeting and spending time with him, and learning about what he does and how he’s of service not only to animals but everyone who lives in California.

      Why do you see a need for a Marine Mammal Care Center in Los Angeles County?

      AE: We don’t really have what we need down here. I am not knocking the one that Peter is affiliated with right now down in San Pedro, but they aren’t a huge facility and a lot of times they are completely overwhelmed and I think they have to turn away animals; I don’t think they have the capacity of the funding. I don’t think any animals should be turned away; these animals are in need because of urban life, pollution, human activity. We need to have a place that will take every animal in need—every sick or injured marine mammal in need. Peter’s ultimate goal is to give every animal a chance.

      You are helping to make this happen. Can you tell us about your involvement?

      AE: I made a pledge to Peter, along with my friends, that we would help him fundraise and bring awareness to this as a local cause. I am very much a believer in acting locally and thinking globally. I am reaching out to celebrities; I am proud to say that my dad is going to donate to the groundbreaking of the center. We are trying to put together a movie premiere next year with Warner Bros. that would also be a fundraiser for the center. Right now, I am just trying to get the contacts I have to help—whatever I can do to help bring in some money.

      Are people receptive?

      AE: We’ve had some great response! Working with Facebook, Twitter and all the different social networks, reaching out to people—and everyone I’ve talked to in person has been both positive and helpful. I am hoping their enthusiasm will carry on through the long process of putting together the amount of money it will take to build and sustain this center.

      You haven’t been on a rescue with Peter, right? Is that something you are interested in doing?

      AE: No, I haven’t. Well, I am interested, and I do want to—but, the thing is, I get really, really sea sick. That’s the reason I haven’t, and I hate sounding like a wuss, but I think I’ll have to stick to observing a rescue that happens on the beach. I need terra firma. I don’t want to be the person who, while Peter is in the middle of a tense rescue, is leaning over the side of the boat, vomiting. (Laughs.)

      What’s next on your artistic plate?

      AE: Right now, along with the friend who introduced me to Peter, we are working on two wildlife rescue shows for TV. One is actually a TV show around Peter and what he does in Southern California; the other is more of an exotic wildlife rescue show. These shows are meant to bring awareness and, eventually, bring funding to the causes that need help and attention.

      I also have two films that I am set to direct. We are in the process of looking for financing for the films. Right now, one foot is in the entertainment industry and the other is in animal-rescue mode. The television thing is new for me, so there’s been a learning curve while tying to make all of this come to fruition.

      What are the films about?

      AE: The two films I am directing are both pretty quirky. One is a dramedy—a term I hate. It’s a slice-of-life, coming-of-age story. The other one is a high comedy about an evil toupée. (Laughs.)

      As in, like, hairpiece?

      AE: A really good friend of mine wrote a really funny, silly script about an evil hair piece that is killing people in New York City. It sounds crazy, and it is crazy, but it’s really well-written and clever. And it’s very funny.

      I have been trying to do different things; my first film was such an intense drama about a woman dying of cancer and the issues around her marriage and her dying; it was pretty heavy, obviously. This is the opposite end of the spectrum.

      Time for evil hairpieces!

      AE: Yes, rampaging Gotham City!

      I can hardly wait. Thanks for your time and everything you are doing to help.

      AE: See you at the groundbreaking!

    • I have been to Primarily Primates three times — each trip consisting of a week-long stay. The picturesque refuge is located just outside San Antonio, Texas, yet seems worlds away from the city.

      The first time I went, I was nervous. I wondered: Would it seem like a zoo — a sad spectacle of depressed animals sitting in the corners of cages? But the first thing one notices when arriving, opening the front gates and stepping onto the beautifully kept property, is the chorus of the monkeys, the loud chatter of the chimpanzees, the other-worldly songs that gibbons sing. It’s like being transported to a fairy-tale jungle.

      I will never forget being introduced to the chimpanzees. I was petrified. I had no idea, before approaching them, that chimpanzees are very large and capable of twisting me into a pretzel. Everyone who works at Primarily Primates is in awe of the chimpanzees, and not just because of the DNA we share or their famous intelligence; all on their own, they are simply amazing creatures to behold. They live according to a social structure and set of rules that is both foreign to us and similar. It’s an honor to simply sit and observe.

      I’ve been to other places: where animals are displayed and visitors come and go; where we are told sad stories about the animals and then get to pet or feed the residents. Primarily Primates is different. The animals aren’t expected to put on a show or interact with humans. The refuge is here to restore their dignity, to allow them to be the undomesticated beings they were born to be.

      Primarily Primates is a place of stories. Some are sad, heart-breaking, devastating —but they are all, every one of them, inspiring. I began to learn them on my first trip to Primarily Primates, where I was greeted by Stephen Tello, the executive director. Stephen is instantly charming — a fast-talking, hard-working person who’s devoted his adult life to the cause. Stephen is also a story-teller, capable of recounting the vast trove of narratives. Stephen knows who likes what kind of food, or if someone has a penchant for a certain kind of human; the amusing anecdotes roll off of his tongue, one after the other. I remember my first tour of the place: how we patiently stopped to see each animal, recounting each one’s story. Stephen knows these individuals as other people know their family members. Stephen has raised a few of the residents at Primarily Primates from infancy — bottle feeding them, providing 24-hour care.

      The stories are all over the map: there are animals released from circuses and zoo exhibits, who would likely have been killed if not for Primarily Primates. There are countless primates who survived vivisection; the kinds of research projects they endured range from psychological studies to gavage (force-feeding them poison) to vaccination studies.

      My most recent visit to the sanctuary was just after 25 Java macaques arrived from a lab in the summer of 2010. All had been used in force-feeding experiments; in other words, they had only known abuse, manipulation, at the hands of humans. They had all lived in crates in a lab in New Jersey. They didn’t know the company of other macaques until they arrived at Primarily Primates; they’d never known the taste of fresh air, the experience of climbing a tree. It’s fascinating that some of the macaques aren’t fearful of humans. They trust the caregivers who bring them food, clean their enclosures, monitor their health and safety. Tonks, one of the rescued macaques, would actually reach out his hand when I walked by him — a poignant reminder to the rest of us that, perhaps, we should try to live in the moment.

      Many of the smaller primates are abandoned pets, who became too much for their owners to handle when they became old enough to be dangerous. Some of the animals came through dramatic rescues that involved months of work sorting out the details; some of them arrived on a day’s notice or less.

      Watching the sanctuary operate on a day-to-day basis can be exhausting, for there are about 400 mouths to feed. In addition to cleaning the living spaces each day, the staff must observe the animals for any health issues; that is no easy feat, as some of the animals spend their days high atop trees, in naturalistic settings with live trees and lush grass. The fresh produce is chopped and separated by hand; different types of animals have different feeding schedules. But the care and feeding isn’t random; the people assigned to individual areas know the animals and their spaces. Many have academic and personal passions for the kinds of animals they work with. The caregivers are loyal and observant, caring for their residents — indeed, loving them.

      It’s hard not to fall in love. The first time I went, I became obsessed with Sampson — a hybrid Capuchin monkey who is well into his teens. In a word, he’s just plain precious, and beyond that I cannot explain why I am drawn to him so much. His former owner still visits him — a rare occurrence among the ex-pets at the sanctuary. She drops by to bring him peanut butter sandwiches. I spend a lot of time watching him and his two cohorts keep vigilant watch over the grounds, and I learn that Sampson has very strong opinions about everyone in his sight, and he has no interest in withholding them. He’s still the first person I go see when I arrive.

      Everyone is entranced by lemurs — who should only exist in Madagascar, a country off the coast of Africa. But they have, tragically, become part of the pet trade. Thus do so many reside at Primarily Primates. (It always bears repeating: primates were never intended to live with humans as play-things.) Lemurs are arrestingly beautiful animals who are easy to project human qualities upon; I’m tempted to say their souls are gentle and kind, but maybe that’s only because they move with such elegance, and their eyes are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Their spacious enclosures have trees that reach far into the sky. They climb, bathe in the sun, and just seem to enjoy being alive.

      Books could be filled with the stories of animals at Primarily Primates, and I always pester Stephen about when he’ll begin writing his memoir. But I already know the answer: There’s no time. There are mouths to feed, individuals to care for, others still in need of rescue. There’s always another story unfolding.

      Note, Oct 2010: Primarily Primates is delighted to inform ActionLine readers that we have brought our administrative and fundraising costs down to the point that fully 90% of Primarily Primates’ expenses go directly to animal feed, housing, care staff, medical care and public education.

      Primarily Primates
      26099 Dull Knife Trail
      San Antonio, TX 78255-3420

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