Chance was 15 years old when she arrived at Fauna in 1997. For the first 15 years of her life she lived completely alone in a very small baboon cage in the laboratory. For many years, she didn’t even have other chimps in her unit to look at or communicate with.
There is no way we could ever imagine what that life must have been like, nor the damage done to her body and soul. She was so deprived and her spirit destroyed. She was aggressive, distrustful, suspicious, very shy and so terribly scared.
Chance’s 15 years in research aged her body, tortured her soul and robbed her of the life she deserved. Once she found life in sanctuary, she essentially was reborn. However, she was reborn with scars, trauma and deep emotional wounds. Our responsibility is to help Chance overcome some of her fears, forget her past and help her heal, but that is not an easy feat.
In the first years, Annie was there to help. Annie was a nurturing mother figure to Chance and the others. When we lost Annie, only five years after her arrival, it had a deep effect on Chance. She had come so far in those early years, but that loss really set her back. No one really filled Annie’s place, so when Annie died Chance lost the only mother she ever knew.
It took years, but Chance grew closer to her half sister, Petra. She eventually developed very special bonds with her adopted brothers: Jethro, Regis and Binky and has always been close to Rachel and often chooses to spend time with Toby. The more secure Chance gets the more she can spend time with Yoko, who in the early years had an intense and dynamic relationship with Chance, so dynamic sometimes it really scared her. Spock recently spent time with her and is getting to know her better too.
Some of the older residents who are no longer with us, like Billy Jo, Tom and Pepper, all played important roles in Chance’s life. After Pepper’s death in 2012, when Chance was 29 years old, her life changed yet again. This time it opened a new door that has had a remarkable impact on her.
Chance had often chosen to be in the same space as Pepper and Sue Ellen, many times wanting to go and visit with them. However, her lack of social skills made that almost impossible. Chance would join them, but within a few hours be evicted because of her behaviour. Pepper would not tolerate her bad manners and didn’t seem to appreciate that Chance was acting like a troubled teenager, and not the 30 year old chimpanzee she was. Naturally that makes sense, although she was 15 when she came to Fauna, her life really began at that time, she had to learn how to do things, be social and most of all, how to live in a family. She had to forget and overcome years of pain and suffering, to trust and love someone. So, to say she acts like a troubled teen is actually very accurate, in so many ways she is and she needs to learn to be an adult, who must accept responsibility for her actions.
Sue Ellen was alone after Pepper’s death and she was very lonely. She actually seemed to welcome Chance into her world, and she gave it her best. There were some squabbles, but there were some really special moments too. After many months of living with Sue Ellen, with Sue Ellen’s patience and support, it seems Chance is at last finding her place and most of all finding her way once again. The time spent alone with Sue Ellen, has changed Chance for the better. She can cope a little better. She is a little more secure and she is definitely more relaxed. Bless you, Sue Ellen, for helping Chance find her way and for picking up where Annie left off years ago.