“The bizarre story of Chichi the chimpanzee highlights the impact of war on animals in Ukraine too”
By Paula Thelwell
A TALE involving a runaway chimpanzee, a raincoat and a bicycle – and a chase to capture the primate – is likely to make headlines every day.
But since this quirky getaway was set in a war-torn city in Ukraine, the story was still destined to go around the world.
Chichi made her request for freedom a week ago from the Feldman Ecopark zoo in Kharkiv, in the northeast of the country, which suffered numerous devastating Russian bombardments for more than six months.
The chimpanzee was stopped in his tracks by the rain, which he doesn’t like. This gave an opportunity to one of the zookeepers trying to capture him.
Taking off her bright yellow raincoat, she offered it to Chichi, who happily accepted, even allowing her to tuck her arms into the sleeves.
The anonymous woman then sat next to him, giving him a few hugs and reassuring words to calm him down.
The story then took a bizarre turn when, with the help of other keepers, the now placid chimpanzee happily climbed into the saddle of a bicycle only to be pushed back to the zoo, as delighted onlookers marveled at the stage.
Who knows what terrors Chichi and his fellow inmates endured as rockets, missiles and mortar fire rained down on Ukraine’s second largest city.
A direct hit early in the war killed over 100 animals and six volunteers.
The enclosures have been repaired and the remaining animals cared for but the zoo remains closed to the public.
Pet and livestock owners know all too well how animals can suffer during thunderstorms or fireworks.
It’s hard to imagine what Chichi and all the animals in Ukraine are going through.
In a widely reported Facebook post, Feldman Ecopark owner Oleksandr Feldman said, “Animals suffer no less from war than people. The recipe for the rehabilitation of war animals is quite simple – it is love and care. And a peaceful sky above your head.
Who flew a kite?
The islanders beautifully marked Ukraine Week in August by forming a ‘living flag’ in St Ouen’s Bay as a sign of solidarity.
Organizers Side by Side, the local charity specializing in supporting victims of war and disasters, had urged people to show their support by wearing blue or yellow to recreate the country’s national symbol.
Other events also took place to mark the anniversary of Ukraine’s declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991.
These acts of solidarity on the island and around the world coincided with – and sadly overshadowed – another international show of unity.
The aim of the Fly With Me festival, held at 16 venues across the UK and Europe, was to mark the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan with a celebration of ancient crafts Afghan of kite-making.
International condemnation of Vladimir Putin’s attempt to restore the borders of the former Soviet Union and the ensuing energy crisis threatening Europe and the United Kingdom have relegated the fate of Afghanistan and its people to the bottom of priority list as ‘aid fatigue’ sets in.
I saw a few kites flying on August 20 in my part of the country. Have you, dear reader, seen any flying over the island?
However, there is still time. Afghanaid, the charity behind the kite initiative, is accepting donations until September 30.
You can always fly a kite for refugees who fled the Taliban and those who remained in Afghanistan, to show that they have not been entirely forgotten.
Every photo tells a story
Tabloids, particularly The Daily Meghan, have started employing body coaches to explain the ‘language’ behind posture and expressions and lip readers to try to understand what people in the spotlight may be saying.
I wonder what these “experts” would have thought of the photo of Foreign Minister Philip Ozouf and French diplomat Gerrit van Rossum, which accompanied a JEP article a fortnight ago under the headline “We need to deepen relations with France”.
As Deputy Ozouf smiled broadly, extending his arm with a firm grip on the Frenchman’s hand in a clear and obvious display of the old ‘entente cordiale’, Mr van Rossum’s expression and posture told a story very different.
Unsmiling and with an outstretched-looking arm restrained rather than outstretched in a mutual act of friendship, he gave the impression of a reluctant participant in the proceedings.
It made me wonder if the usual platitudes about maintaining Jersey’s old links with France, as well as calls for trust, meaningful exchanges and improved relations with France after Brexit, are reciprocated across the water.
It has been over 800 years since the island abandoned its Franco-Norman roots in favor of allegiance to the British crown.
Yet, over the past three decades, much time and resources have been devoted to re-establishing these links.
But was it all worth it? Or to paraphrase the famous phrase from Monty Python’s Life of Brian: “What have the French done for us?