To say that my summer spent at the Fauna Foundation as a visiting intern was transformative would be an understatement. A sanctuary such as this remarkable facility is one of the few places on Earth where one witnesses on a daily basis the best and worst of what humanity has to offer—the best being those who selflessly dedicate their lives to making the residents comfortable, and the worst of course, being the reminiscent evidence of harm inflicted on those without the means to evade it. Fortunately, the residents of the Fauna Foundation are in excellent hands.
As I woke every morning to the echoes of those I helped care for, it was overjoying to know that in however small a way, I was helping to improve the lives of those that have had such a long history of being wronged. That being said, my takeaway from this entire experience was simply that it wasn’t about me. While I participated in valuable research focusing on the enrichment use of the resident chimpanzees, aided in the preparation of diets, assisted in a variety of cleaning tasks, and had the opportunity to volunteer for the symposiums taking place over the course of my eight-week stay on Fauna grounds, I was encouraged to think beyond what I would have the chance to do, and to focus on how I could help the chimpanzees and staff in any way needed.
Witnessing the caregivers meeting the needs of the chimpanzees on their terms was one of the most captivating aspects of the Internship Program. Whether it be signing to Loulis or exchanging food grunts to communicate that lunch was being served, I was moved by the inhabitants of the sanctuary being treated with such dignity and respect. Even tasks as seemingly simple as washing a load of laundry had their own intrinsic significance, as that task meant that a nice nest of blankets would be waiting in a clean room made ready for company. I could take up countless pages describing all of the things that I loved about my time spent here, but in the grand scheme of things, it was not about my experience, it was about serving the chimpanzees at Fauna and helping to maintain their positive experiences in sanctuary.
Fauna Interns: Caroline, Jade, Kailie, Tyler-Jane