Learning about the negative impact humans have on other primates means nothing unless you try to do something about it, according to Marymount University alumnus Marjanne Kameka. Thats why she and other members of the Marymount community met with a congressman to discuss legislation that would prohibit keeping primates as pets and ban the use of animals in cosmetic testing.
Rep. Don Beyer of Virginias 8th District met with Marymount President Matthew D. Shank, Associate Professor of Psychology Stacy Lopresti-Goodman, 10 of her students, two alumni and Adjunct Sociology Professor Justin Goodman last month. The students had all taken Lopresti-Goodmans Abnormal Primate Psychology class, and most had traveled abroad with her and Goodman to volunteer and conduct research at chimpanzee sanctuaries.
A Marymount trip to a Kenyan primate sanctuary in 2011 inspired Kamekas efforts.
After spending so much time observing the chimpanzees at the sanctuary, you cant help but fall in love with these animals, said Kameka, who graduated from MU in 2013 with a bachelors degree in psychology. They are intelligent and have such unique personalities. Sometimes its hard not to compare them to humans.
After that experience, Kameka teamed up with Lopresti-Goodman to present research at scientific conferences on abnormal behaviors in chimpanzees rescued from abusive captive situations. She also lobbied for animal welfare legislation supported by Congressman Beyer.
For most of the students, this was the first time speaking with a legislator about issues they care passionately about, Lopresti-Goodman said.
This event was a great opportunity for students to put to use critical thinking and communication skills that we have worked hard to develop together in the classroom and abroad.
Lopresti-Goodman and Goodman, her spouse, have led three trips to a chimpanzee sanctuary in Kenya and one trip to a sanctuary in Spain.
These trips help make the knowledge and research skills they learn about in the classroom come to life, she said. Students are encouraged to use these skills advocating on behalf of chimpanzees in the U.S. after we return. This is in essence what the students were doing during their meeting with Congressman Beyer speaking with him about their first hand experiences working with and for captive chimpanzees, thanking him for his work on this issue, and encouraging him to do more of it.
One student said the meeting inspired her to pursue a career in politics and is looking into interning on Capitol Hill after she graduates this December, Lopresti-Goodman added.
I appreciated being able to hear about some of the reasons behind bills the congressman has drafted and talking about how we, as Arlington residents, can be influential to Congress, said Mireille Nsanzimana, a senior psychology major.
The students explained how they created petitions to ban the use of chimpanzees on greeting cards and to retire chimpanzees from roadside zoos.
Johanna Gomez, a senior biology major from Washington, D.C., said greeting cards with pictures of chimpanzees dressed in human clothing and smiling are very deceptive.
When a chimp smiles with all their teeth, theyre actually frightened and trying to scare you off, Gomez said.
Gomez praised Marymounts approach to education.
Its not always just academic, she said. We learn about real-world things that we have a chance of changing.
Rep. Don Beyer of Virginias 8th District, right, discusses animal welfare legislation with members of the Marymount University community. (Photo by Leslie E. Kossoff/LK Photos)
Marymount students explain how they created petitions to ban the use of chimpanzees on greeting cards and to retire chimpanzees from roadside zoos. (Photo by Leslie E. Kossoff/LK Photos)
Members of the Marymount community met with Congressman Don Beyer to discuss legislation that he has co-sponsored that would prohibit keeping primates as pets and ban the use of animals in cosmetic testing. (Photo by Leslie E. Kossoff/LK Photos)
Marymount University President Matthew D. Shank, Assistant Professor of Psychology Stacy Lopresti-Goodman and Rep. Don Beyer, who represents Virginias 8th Congressional District. (Photo by Leslie E. Kossoff/LK Photos)