Animal testing for various products, medications and physical conditions continues to be a hot-button topic throughout the world. Thankfully, the number of businesses and organizations that experiment on helpless creatures continues to decrease, but there are still animals out there that have yet to be released.
One chimpanzee that endured years of painful biopsies on his liver for hepatitis research fortunately found freedom and has been living out his remaining days at the Save the Chimps Sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida. Since that time, Cheetah, as he's called, peacefully spends all of his time painting.
Save the Chimps Sanctuary
There are up to 250 rescued chimpanzees living at the sanctuary at any given time. They reside in large family groups on 12 separate 3-acre islands, where they are able to make their own choices for the first times in their lives. This is a huge change for them after being confined to small, sterile cages — often times for decades — without ever seeing another animal.
This treatment constitutes an incredible hardship for chimps in particular, because they are social creatures used to living in groups. Another significant change at their new home is diet, which now includes fresh fruit and vegetables, something they seldom, if ever, saw during their dismal lab lives.
During his rescue back in 2002, it was discovered the 43-year-old primate had an artistic streak. As it turns out, it appears to be something of a therapy for Cheetah. Equipped with nontoxic paint, brushes and paper, he will spend hours on end dabbling away creating vivid "abstract art" that apparently pleases his soul, because it's become his favorite pastime over the years.
Chimpanzees aren't the only animals in nature to wield a paintbrush. Elephants, like the one at the Phoenix Zoo, are also well known for their artistic bent. Dogs have been leaving their snout smears on surfaces since their were surfaces to smear, and now someone is creating abstract "Knose Art" from all those haphazard smudges. While this form of "art" may not be intentional, it's still a form of animal art.
If you feel strongly about ending animal testing, you can always boycott products from companies that still engage in this practice. Another way to show your disdain is to support groups that rescue creatures from unbearable lab and farm situations where the inhumane treatment amounts to cruelty. Now that the U.S. government has banned testing on chimps we're making progress, but we still have a long way to go.