MICHAEL’S DREAM is the name of a book about Michael, a gorilla who communicated with American Sign Language (ASL). Using this means of communication, Michael recounted to his human companions the horror he continued to experience in his sleep. It was the accurate memory of seeing his mother murdered while he was kidnapped and taken away from his home. Unfortunately, the fact of the murder and kidnapping is not unusual but Michael’s ability to tell his experience to humans is. By making this book widely available, especially to people in Africa, the Gorilla Foundation hopes to move people’s heart and conscience so that they no longer take part in the “bushmeat” trade. As more forests are destroyed for timber, the logging roads make areas accessible where gorillas and other wild animals used to live relatively undisturbed. These crews eat the animals and also open up the area for commercial enterprise – with city people eating bushmeat as a delicacy.
The Gorilla Foundation also makes available books about Koko, such as KOKO’S KITTEN. Although, sadly, Michael died in spite of the loving care he received from the Gorilla Foundation, Koko is alive and well and is an ambassador to her species. She looks at picture books and signs to herself what she sees, such as, “cat.” She watches films and shows understanding and empathy for the characters portrayed in the film She is gentle and loving toward kittens and mourned when one of them died. Koko is well known and loved in the U.S. as well as Africa. Hopefully, more and more people will be inspired to take part in campaigns to save gorillas and their habitat. For more information and videos, go to koko.org or call 1-800-ME-GO-APE.
Linda is President of People for Animal Rights, which strives to educate about the intrinsic value of non-human animals. Contact us at PAR, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse 13215-0358, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. or LDESTEFANO3@twcny.rr.com Visit us at peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org.