Photo: © NJ Wight
Theo has been in my life since 2003, when he came to us from the University of Western Ontario. He was only 4 years old and was going to be terminated by the University.
Theo, like some of the others who do make it out, had special qualities. He was kind, gentle, beautiful and good to his caregivers. It is often the reason some lab animals make it out. Lucky him to be chosen, a blessing indeed, he is remarkable fellow with the sweetest nature. He lives on his own but with neighbours whom he adores. His dear friend for many years was a little Longtailed Crabeating Macque named Pougi, as well as a lovely Capuchin couple, Sophie and Little Man. Pougi and Little man are gone now, and both deaths were difficult for Theo, thankfully he has new friends in Newton and Darla.
Theo was wild caught in Kenya, Africa, when he was an infant. He would have witnessed the deaths of family members, most likely his mother, and many of her family members. Adults are sacrificed and murdered in order to capture the youngsters, and when possible they are taken captive too. He would been have restrained and thrown in a bag or a cage…then taken to a holding area until he was prepared to be shipped in a crate, from his country, terrified, alone, and traumatized. Once he arrived at the University he would have been anesthesized for a physical, and for his identification number to be tattooed on his body…a collar would be placed around his neck for easy access to him in his cage. Once that was done, he was supposed to be locked up for the rest of his life however long or short that might be, to be a research subject in the University’s studies on kidney transplants.
Due to his strength, and the fact that he would not keep the restraining jacket on, he could not be used for the studies, after all he had been through his capture, his losses, Theo was to be terminated. His job was to be a blood donor for other baboons who had undergone a kidney transplant. This required that he wear a type of restraining jacket, without it the necessary access to his body was impossible. It seems Theo would not wear the jacket and was able to get it off…Lucky for him, he would not wear the restraining devices, but horrifying to think his life would have to end because of that. This vibrant, amazing, social young fellow would be on a list of candidates who would be killed unless someone provided a home for him.
When Theo moved to Fauna years 10 years ago, I had hoped that he would one day be the voice for all baboons used in research. Theo’s life, and his story, is not much different from other baboons currently held in research labs.
Theo deserved a chance. Theo should never have been taken from his home and his family. Theo should not have been simply a tool to be used and discarded.
I feel as strongly about ending research on baboons as I do about ending research on chimpanzees. Theo missed out on a full life, a free life, with all the challenges he was meant to face… His life. Now he must live behind bars for the rest of his life.
It’s hard to look at Theo and not feel sad for him, and not want to do something for the others.
Theo does have a good life here at Fauna, he has friends and he enjoys so much about his life. He has a comfortable home, wonderful neighbors, amazing caregivers, great food, and lots of variety in his life, it is just not the life he should have had, or the life he was born to live.
When the University of Western Ontario sent Theo to us in 2003, they also sent $12,000.00. Clearly this would not be nearly enough funding to care for him for the rest of his life, which could be 40 years. There was a chance to send Theo back to Africa for the same amount, to send him to a sanctuary where he could one day be re-introduced into a wild colony. He was only 4 years old, and there were many great possibilities…the University did not want to set a precedent by doing this, and choose to euthanize him or send him to a Sanctuary, where he would remain behind bars for the rest of his life.
Research using Baboons still continues at the University of Western Ontario…all studies are terminal, no Baboon will ever leave there alive.
Our duty is to help end the use of living beings for the purpose of research. Ask questions, investigate what the University is doing, and ask about alternatives…demand to know, and be find out what their intentions are for these dear souls held captive with no hope of a future, or the life they were born to live. By taking action, you can make a difference, and you can stop this!
Theo’s favourite things:
…He loves to play with Newton.
…He loves corn on the cob, and his native foods, grasses and plants he would have found at home.
…Theo loves to sit on his rock structures, gazing off over the neighbouring corn fields.
…Theo makes the most amazing food grunts when he see his caregivers preparing some of his favourite foods.
…He likes to chase and bark at the squirrels that find their way into his home, and he gets rather annoyed when they come to steal from him.
…Theo really enjoys grooming sessions with his human friends, always ready to receive a gentle touch.
Theo is kind and so co-operative and helpful. He never rebels or loses his temper. He is calm, kind and loving. Theo is very charismatic and handsome. Everyone who meets him feels humbled to be near him. He has such a presence. I am blessed to have Theo in my life and so glad he made it out of the lab. He deserves a second chance.