A chimpanzee that spent 32 years isolated in a lab is learning to heal with the help of troll dolls.
Chimps, man's closest living relatives, are highly social animals, typically living in communities of several dozen fellow chimps, according to National Geographic. But Foxie, who was born into a Pennsylvania laboratory in 1976, was forced to live a life of solitude.
At the lab, Foxie was locked in a cage where she was continuously poked and prodded for hepatitis vaccine research.
Foxie was a breeder chimp, meaning she was forced to produce more chimpanzee subjects for research. Her baby would be taken from her days or even hours after its birth, and soon she would be bred again. According to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, she had four babies during her time in the lab, two of which were a set of twins, and none of which she ever truly knew.
When Foxie got older, the lab stopped breeding her. She was stored in a windowless basement lab like an inanimate object, rather than the intelligent, emotional animal that she is.
On June 13, 2008, Foxie, along with with six other chimpanzees, were given to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, when her lab decided to stop using chimpanzees in biomedical research.
“When she first arrived at the sanctuary, she was very apprehensive and cautious,” co-director Diana Goodrich told The Huffington Post. “She also didn't like men in the beginning, but warmed up to her female caregivers more quickly.”
In fact, Goodrich remembers Foxie watching every one of her moves at first, testing the waters before eventually presenting her belly for Goodrich to tickle, despite her former lab caregivers warning Goodrich that Foxie couldn’t be trusted and had a tendency to grab.
Though Foxie clearly had a playful side, she wasn’t responding to any of the toys provided to her by the sanctuary.
That was until Goodrich brought her something special -- a troll doll with hot pink hair.
“Her first troll doll came from a Value Village in Seattle,” she said. “I didn't have Foxie in mind when I purchased the doll, because she didn't like objects at that time, but I thought one of the other chimpanzees would like the doll.”
But it was Foxie who fell hard for the quirky kid toy and since then, she has received many more troll dolls thanks to the organization's blog.
“Foxie plays with her dolls all the time,” Goodrich said. “Sometimes she is gentle with them, carrying them on her back like chimpanzee moms do with their infants, and sometimes she is rough with them -- hitting them against other objects in a playful way.”
Although nothing can erase the trauma Foxie experienced while living in a lab, the trolls have helped her heal – and slowly transform.
“I think the dolls provide Foxie with a greater sense of security and an outlet for her imagination and playfulness that she didn't have for all those years,” Goodrich said.
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