Regis is still a sensitive and emotional fellow. I think he gets more sensitive with time, but less stressed by things going on around him. His coping skills are far more developed, and he is very secure in his group.
Regis was a tall, skinny, scared and neurotic little boy when I met him in the lab years ago. When he moved to Fauna we saw some remarkable changes in him, year after year he became more secure, more self assured, and earned a position in the family as a valued member. He gets support from everyone, including Jethro who has such an important role in the family, and of great importance in his development and maturity was his relationship with the now deceased, dear Pepper. She was a strong role model and friend to Regis, and this relationship gave him great comfort and elevated him in the group. I often feel the others see his weaknesses, and sense he cannot cope with too much stress, so they are careful with him, which is very kind of them. While Pepper was alive she provided unconditional love and support to Regis, even from afar.
Regis is not a strong chimp, he has remained frail looking and his body shows signs of abuse. Like many, if not all of the chimps born in research labs and used for research from such an early age, the damage done to their bodies is not only emotional, but physical too. Often one cannot see the physical or internal damage, but in Regis’s case we can see it.
From the time he was born, Regis was a victim of bio medical research, and he was sickly. He chose to starve himself as a way of controlling his world back then; which ultimately led to his weakened state. Lack of nourishment at an early age can have lifelong effects, and the daily rigors and stresses of research life marked him for life.
Whatever they did to Petra and Regis at LEMSIP, it had the same effect; they were the same age, involved in much of the same daily rigors, and were housed together for a short period of time as youngsters. Both locked up permanently far too early, while others still had release from their cages. This alone had a terrible consequence for them. They watched as others their age were taken out of the cages to play with other chimps or the humans, but because they hated so badly to be put back in their cages, they stopped letting them out.
Regis is a special guy, but he has an edge that I feel will be with him forever. He, like Petra, seems to know something is not right about their situation in life and often just seems angry. Regis is diabetic, and must cooperate daily for his meds and injections.
In spite of all he has endured, and his frustration about his situation, Regis is fabulous with us, and has decided to work with us. We don’t trick him, he knows what to expect, and he decides daily whether he wants to come to us for help. Has he given in, or does he understand that he feels better after receiving the medication and that is why he allows us to help him? I am proud of how loving Regis has become, how trusting, and how forgiving. It took a group, a family, and a community to raise Regis, bless his little soul, and all those who helped him grow into the young man he is today.