• The Great Ape Experience
  • The 61st Missouri Photo Workshop / Festus & Crystal City, Mo.
  • Bentley wakes up and shouts for his diaper to be changed. Sue hears him crying, rushes to his room and calms him down. Bentley is 18-months old and always wants to be close to his mom, Sue. A very normal behavior for chimpanzees of this age.

    Sue Cassidy and her fiancé, Mike Casey, are raising three chimpanzees as their kids in their Festus home. Mike, for the past 20 years, has been rescuing chimpanzees from individuals, circus and carnivals and then tries to rehabilitate them. He also had built a habitat for 25 chimpanzees, which presently belongs to his ex-wife. But Mike and Sue are too busy presently with the three chimps that they look after. Bentley, the youngest one is a year and half old, then there is Kenzy who is 4-years old and the oldest 9-year old Hannah. Kenzy, also acts for commercials and movies. But the chimps are provided with all the love and attention they deserve.

    This family makes us believe that relationships between humans and animals can be so beautiful. But at the same time it raises a point of debate. The debate of where do animals actually belong? It asks the question that whether wild animals can be confined to human boundaries even if they are provided with the best of care and facilities. The issue is much bigger than the story of Mike, Sue and their chimpanzees. The wonderful bond that this family shares provokes a thought. A thought which seeks to understand the consequences of human actions on wild animals. And till how far can many similar human actions be justified?

    Kenzy, a 4-year old chimpanzee, plays at his home in Festus, Mo., on September 29, 2009. Kenzy lives with Mike Casey and Sue Cassidy, who have been raising him as their child. Kenzy also works as a model and has acted in several commercials and movies.

  • 1 of 12