Jeff and I both recently volunteered to do a free mural, finishing on 9/13/23, for the Suncoast Ape Sanctuary. These primates either come from a bad situation such as a medical facility where they were used for testing or they were used in the entertainment industry, for example, or kept illegally as pets and have now been abandoned, being found no longer useful or the owner finally discovered the tremendous difficulties in caring for such an animal. There is sometimes controversy over these sanctuaries because people sometimes do not understand the reality of things. We believe in this sanctuary because we have been there to witness them, all volunteers, busting their humps out in the heat of the Florida sun to provide for these beautiful primates. The previous owners, for whatever reason, were unable to upkeep the facility. The new owners are loving, caring individuals and this is a non-profit, all volunteer sanctuary. I wish everyone could see this place. It is beautiful and all the apes have T.V.s to watch when they are not out playing with their toys, basking in the sun, or swinging on their hammocks and other fun structures. They all get fed several times throughout the day and they have a constant source of water that is piped through the walls. The current owners are giving all they have with the help of many volunteers. It cost $20k alone to clear out dead brush and trees just to get started on the revamping of the sanctuary. Additionally, the new owners plan on having structures installed where the apes can go outside and feel the dirt beneath their feet. Many think that these apes should be free or in a better sanctuary like Busch Gardens or a one of those big expensive zoos, but truth be told, one could not pay these larger zoos to take one of these unwanted apes. It just does not work like that. Additionally, if these apes were to be set free back into captivity where they originated, they more than likely would just be hunted down by poachers. I don’t even want to get into telling you right now why poachers kill these primates, but it’s usually for vain things like virility. There are other reasons as well that many of these apes cannot be placed back into captivity – reasons such as having medical issues that need tending to, and many have been in captivity there whole lives and are not capable of being set free for various reasons. These apes are well cared for and they have a family of humans that love them and care for them, for a change, and that are continually doing things every day by way of volunteers to better their habitats.
In these two pictures you’ll see Joker, he is an older ape, about 55, not much older than me and Jeff. He is in the area next to us while we paint his outdoor area and indoor area where he sleeps or chills to watch fun movies on a large monitor screen. He is a sweet heart. Many chimpanzees can be very aggressive and, unbeknownst to many to this day, are exceedingly strong. Joker is very sweet and kind and gets his name for the fact that he does have a great sense of humor. We just love him. When people bash sanctuaries like this one, it only makes it harder on the apes, because it makes it harder for them to get donations. Jeff and I pray this sanctuary continually succeeds in its endeavors for these dear and precious primates. But please, if you ever do witness a sanctuary that you feel is causing harm, please report them, but first speak with the owners. You may actually just not understand what you are seeing or perhaps the owners are unaware of something. We should never just assume that someone is intentionally causing harm, especially if they are not. Communication is key in all matters.
This is an Asian inspired vintage tropical large installation piece painted on a 5 foot x 3 foot cement board and screwed onto two 4 x 4s in the ground. It currently is in our front yard.