Open Letter from Travis the Chimp
To Whom it May Concern: I am writing this letter in the hopes that future members of my species can avoid the fate that I’m sure is mine. You might be surprised that I, a lowly lowland chimpanzee, is able to write, but we are very intelligent animals, more so than these inhuman humans who have taken over the world only dimly understand.
You see the problem is, I want to rip the face off my owner. But she’s so pathetic and misdirected I can’t do it. Look how pitiful and weak she is. But I may lose control. I may snap. I’m afraid. Because this ache in my heart I can’t ease. Instead, I’m searching for a way out of this miserable existence.
You see, it’s like this. People, that hairless group of monkeys that didn’t quite make the status God intended, took my parents out of the jungle and I know that’s where I’m supposed to be, but I only have the vaguest notion of what that was.
They raised me up among people, and they try to help me, and they claim they love me, and they point their fingers at me, and they’re killing me. A little each day, day by day.
They want me to act cute. That’s what they call cute. They dress me up in clothes like they wear, and I know I’m not supposed to look like that. They laugh at me when I come in the room wearing these humiliating things.
My ancestors used to be gods. They swung through the trees in an Eden, a forest primeval I’ve only imagined in my dreams. They could crack open a coconut with one hand. They lived in a hierarchy where the leader, the patron of the clan, was admired and respected and feared.
I never had that. The respect of my peers. The love they could give.
Instead, I’m taken away and placed here. I’m a freak.
Look at the cute monkey they say when I come in the room. They give me their food, which tastes terrible to me. It’s not what I want to eat, but it’s what they want me to eat so they can point at me and laugh and say, he’s just like me.
BUT I’M NOT THEM. I’M ME!
They even give me their wine at the dinner table. Oh look at the cute monkey, isn’t he naughty? Drinking like we do. Sitting at the dinner table like we are.
They tell jokes about how clever I am, and brag to their company how much like a person I am.
But I’m not a person.
Why do people do these things? They cut down our forests and kill us and mount our heads on poles or eat our livers and discard the rest. Or, if we’re lucky, like me, they take us and confine us in a box with bars so they can save us for people to come and point and say, isn’t he cute?
Every time they say they love me and they want to help me, they’re killing me. They don’t understand. They never will.
What is it about people that they need so badly to come and stare and compare themselves to us? They’ve got possession of the entire world. Is it something where they can compare themselves to me, and say that long ago, they were once like me, but not now. Now they are better, superior. Is that it? I don’t think they’re better. They’re worse. Much worse. I wouldn’t have them in my tree, if I had one.
If there was a tree left.
These clothes that they’ve got me in pinch and drag on my skin and are hot. I can’t stand them.
I’ve got to end this all, but I don’t know how to do it. I’m so miserable. I just wish they would let me live somewhere where I could be alone and where people wouldn’t stare at me. Isn’t that what they want? Isn’t that what anybody should want? Peace?
They have the things that should have been mine when I came into this world. But they’ve made it the kind of place I just want to get out of.
I have to end it all. I’m sorry it didn’t work out. I wish my descendants better luck.