A mother’s love is one of nature’s indestructible bonds, even in the most adverse circumstances. Just ask Foxie the chimpanzee, who finally found an outlet for her maternal love after years of being prodded, poked and having her babies snatched from her in an animal-testing facility.
Foxie’s story, then, is a heartbreaking one. And it began the moment she was born at Texas’ Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in August 1976. After all, this institute housed chimpanzees destined for a barbaric life of animal research.
By the age of seven, though, Foxie was being moved from one biomedical lab to another until she ended up enduring trials for a hepatitis A vaccine. During this time, the helpless creature didn’t have a name; to her experimenters she was simply #CA0130.
Later, in November 1986 to be exact, Foxie gave birth to twin chimps Steve and David. Sadly, though, Steve soon died. And while David survived, he also endured years of animal testing at the National Institutes of Health before ending up at New Mexico’s Alamogordo Primate Facility.
In fact, over the next three years, Foxie also gave birth to Angie and Kelsey – both of whom, thankfully, found refuge at animal sanctuaries. But despite becoming a mother four times over, Foxie never knew her children; they were all snatched from her days after being born.
Many more attempts to breed Foxie were made, but, fortunately, she never had further offspring. However, the chimp would now be considered useless, as she was unable to give birth and no longer used in experiments. Toward the end of her time at the lab, then, she was left alone in a cage in a windowless basement.
Luckily, after years of this horrific torture, Foxie finally met her salvation. This happened in 2008 when she was rescued by Diana Goodrich from the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Che Elum, Washington.
On their first meeting at the lab, though, Foxie, who wasn’t used to friendly humans, was understandably cautious. After a while, however, she came round and even presented her tummy to Diana for a little tickle.
When she was later taken to the sanctuary Foxie was reserved once more. She must have been wondering what was this new place was and what was going to happen. “She was aloof for a time around humans and cautious about her surroundings,” Goodrich explained. “She would not play with or even touch any of the toys.”
One day, however, Foxie fell in love with a troll doll. In fact, she adopted the toy as her own and cradled it like a baby. She soon acquired another; before long the chimp was caring for a whole family of trolls.
“Sometimes she carries the dolls on her back like a chimpanzee mom would do with an infant,” Goodrich told The Dodo. “So we’ll just see a hint of troll hair on Foxie’s back when she’s walking around.”
Goodrich further said that Foxie’s love for her dolls has helped her transform into a “happy, playful and confident chimpanzee who is full of acrobatic surprises.” However, it’s also a poignant reminder that the chimp never got to be a mother to her real-life young.
“She probably would have made an excellent mother if she’d been given the chance,” Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest reflected in a blog post. “At least in [the] sanctuary she is able to take her dolls with her outside, forage for fruit which she loves, and do somersaults and acrobatics that she never had the space to do in the labs she was caged in.”
Fascinatingly, years have passed since her rescue, but Foxie is still just as enamored with her collection of toys. In fact, she’s since also opened up her heart to a number of Dora the Explorer dolls.
Foxie has also gained a large fan following on Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest’s Facebook page. Certainly, the organization leaves regular updates on her condition and shares adorable pictures of the ape doting on her dolls.
“After all the years of deprivation, she has something that is hers. Beautiful and tragic,” one Facebook fan wrote. The comment was left beneath an image of Foxie staring lovingly into a troll’s eyes.
Others are keen to help anyway they can. Some even offer up their entire collections of troll dolls for Foxie to adopt.
“Does she have enough trolls or is it possible to send her one?” enquired another thoughtful Facebook user. “I collect them so I have many.”
Someone else added, “I have a box of them from my childhood. I’ll send them when I’m home for Thanksgiving.”
Although she already has more surrogate babies than most would cope with, it seems that Foxie – whose tragic story has definitely had a happy ending – has more love in her heart to share. “She has hundreds, but she’s always excited to get a new one,” the sanctuary informed eager fans.