Linda J. Howard's passing is a profound loss to her many friends.
To her compatriots in the continuing fight to end humanity's willful harm to other animals, her loss leaves us wounded and weakened, but we are resolved to see her hopes for a kinder world realized. We will work even harder and speak even more loudly.
Linda's compassion encompassed us all, humans and other animals alike. Her generosity was overshadowed only by her concern for those who have no voice. Linda was a boundless and creative resource for many animal advocates and an untiring campaigner. She was an acknowledged expert on the dark world of primate experimentation and the domestic and international trade in monkeys and other exotic species for sale as pets, zoo exhibits, and for laboratory use. Her expertise was frequently sought -- though rarely acknowledged -- by both national and grassroots organizations.
The AESOP-Project website is now being maintained by her friends. We invite everyone who knew her to share stories and their memories of Linda here. Linda, we miss you.
From Shelly Ladd:
----- We live in a beautifully balanced system in which death is a part of everything that lives. The pain of our personal loss is ours, within the greater whole, nothing is lost. Perhaps it is too much to say that we will ever understand death: the fruit of time and pain and healing is that we will come to accept it.
Let me open myself to the knowledge of wisdom,
to which death belongs in equal measure with life
When the phone call came from Noam on Thursday night at about 10:30, I was devastated. I was the last number on her caller ID. I told her that afternoon to come to Los Angeles, I had an extra room, she could bring her cats and we would make space for all her books and monkeys. Together we could have done so much to help our beloved monkeys and those that dedicate their lives to help them. For my part, I promise to carry on her mission.
It was through Kari Bagnall, at Jungle Friends, that I first heard of Linda Howard, and when a young pig tailed macaque was picked up in LA in November of 2004, I called Linda Howard and she told me to call Linda Barcklay at Mindy's Memory. Linda agreed to accept him and that is how I became President of the Board for Mindy's. The following year, Linda Howard called me about a baby capuchin for sale in California that was brought to her attention by Brenda Keller, another friend of Linda's, of course I got involved and had the monkey confiscated and it did get to a sanctuary, that is how Brenda Keller became Vice President of Mindy's. Then last year, when I was at the sanctuary, I got a call from Linda about a friend in North Carolina that heard a radio station was raising money to buy a monkey to have as a mascot on their morning show and knowing my husband was in radio, thought that we could help...needless to say she put Beth Levine and I together and now she is second Vice President of Mindy's.
Linda worked in mysterious ways and hopefully we will continue to all work together to carry on her mission. Linda was the peacemaker; and she always put the primates first and did not engage in any petty squabbles. She got the big picture and that should be our inspiration. Those of us that are in this to help primates, need to realize that we need to help each other. For the love of Linda and all that she believed in let's work together.
On the night that Linda died, I went to a book that I've had for years called The Promise Of a New Day a book of daily meditations, and I looked at July 27.. the quote is "Whoever is interested in life is particularly interested in death" -- Thomas Mann
In this biological world we can see clearly that death is a stage in the life cycle. In our human case we cling to the precious consciousness that seems to set us apart from the rest of the natural world, and we see death with different eyes -- as an ending, often cruel, and sometimes unendurable.
We do ourselves no service to make an enemy of death, it is a presence within our life, and by denying it, we deny a part of ourselves. Our deepest knowledge includes death. To experience loss and to grieve it is a great common experience and one that I believe is shared with all primates.
God blessed us all by giving us Linda Howard as an example of how to live our lives, may we never forget her goodness and her grace.
Rest in peace my friend.
From Beth Levine:
It is so hard to believe that Linda is gone. Although we "met" and knew each other via phone calls and emails for the past couple of years, I am so lucky that I had the privilege of meeting her in person at the IPPL meeting this past March. Relative to Linda and so many of you, I am fairly new to the AR movement. At the IPPL meeting, Linda "took me under her wing" at times, and made a point of introducing me to anyone she thought was important for me to get to know. Matching faces to names I've seen on primfocus was wonderful, and Linda helped me do that. Linda was the one who connected me to a number of "primate people" across the nation. It's because of Linda that I am now on the Board of Mindy's Memory Primate Sanctuary, and it is also because of Linda that I am now connected with Rita Anderson and her plight to save the CU 34 monkeys, some of whom are now at Wake Forest University, a 2-hour drive from where I live.
Earlier this month I had planned on visiting Linda in San Antonio, an easy drive from my sister's house in Austin where I was visiting. This was planned months ago. However, at the end of June she called me to say she had the wonderful opportunity to go to the International Primate Conference in Uganda with Shirley McGreal, and would not be in town when I would be in Texas. I told her she couldn't have come up with a better excuse, and I was so happy that she had that opportunity to go! I visit my sister annually, and I thought for sure there would easily be another opportunity for me to visit her.
We all have a huge void that we must work hard to fill. It will take all of us to do the work that Linda did.
VP, Mindy's Memory Primate Sanctuary
From Jane Dewar:
Linda's loss to primates - especially her beloved monkeys - will be felt for years to come. I can't imagine a world without her calm determination and focus. I was just in a shop where there were some cute monkey cards and my immediate impulse was to buy one to send to Linda. I'd sent her a silly monkey paper punch once and years later she sent me a gorilla charm, since her name evoked monkeys to me, the way mine evoked gorillas for her, I guess. I don't remember when we met, but figure it must have been years ago at an IPPL meeting, where Linda seemed like a regular, like Shirley and John, Beanie and Igor. I hate the phone, so we rarely chatted, but emailed regularly, the last emails being about her wonderful time in Uganda.
Linda's death hit me very hard personally, although I didn't know her that well. I've been in the kind of pain she must have been in when she died, and fight depression daily, which isn't easy when you're in the world of primates and trying to make a difference. The 3 kittens we rescued a few days before Linda's death, were my salvation. I'd go sit with them and try to make sense of a world where good people like Linda die and scumbags that abuse animals thrive. They gave me the only smiles I could muster for days.
Two days ago, one of the kittens was accidently killed by one of our dogs, most likely. I found Mango's lifeless body in one of the dog yards, probably less than an hour after he died. It made me think Mango, who hadn't yet seen his 3 month birthday, knew he had other things to do, and left us to join Linda and too many other special souls.
May they all rest in peace.
Founder, Gorilla Haven
From Susan Roghair:
My last contact with Linda was via email right after she got back from her trip from Uganda. She shared photographs of the peaceful, natural scenery and her love for the people out there and what they were doing. As if by fate Linda had just lived her dream come true just a few weeks prior to her loss.
It's comforting to know (thanks to Shirley McGreals invite) that Linda was able to fulfil her dreams by going on this trip.
Merritt Clifton, editor of ANIMAL PEOPLE newspaper quoted Shirley McGreal the best......"Despite her years of selfless struggle on behalf of our primates cousins, Linda had never seen a wild monkey. I invited her to come with me to the International Primatological Society Congress held in Entebbe, Uganda, in late June 2006, and to travel with me afterwards to Murchison Falls National Park in northern Uganda. On the drive up we saw many baboons and every time Linda would insist the driver stop and we would watch the troop until the baboons disappeared from view. We went on to Jacana Lodge in the forested area of Queen Elizabeth Park. The tress were full of exquisite colobus monkeys and the more elusive redtail guenons. One night I was in the lodge reception area and Linda stayed in the room. there was a knock on the door. Linda opened the door and there stood a mother and baby baboon. It was as if they somehow knew there was a friend behind that door. The baboons made no effort to enter. They just stood there briefly, and left. Linda was overjoyed."
May Linda find the same joy has she greets her fellow primates when they cross the rainbow bridge to join her.
The primates were lucky to have had Linda in their world, and she will be with them forever. Lindas passionate light that shined so brightly has kindled many new flames, it kindled flames in her family, in thousands of activists, friends, and colleagues throughout the world, in primate organizations, in folks she recently met on her trip to Uganda, and in the numerous projects and activities she carried out. These flames will forever continue to burn and brighten our world.
May Linda's light shine forever in each and everyone of us as we continue her work.
From Shirley McGreal:
For many days I have been struggling over how to salute Linda and her many accomplishments and her wonderful personal warmth and generosity.
I thought that I'd tell you an anecdote that tells a lot about her.
It goes way several years when Linda was still living in Virginia, and it's about our never-ending search for Alfie and Miranda Gibbon.
IPPL has a sanctuary gibbon named Elizabeth who was abandoned at birth by her mother at the Silver Springs Tourist facility in Florida and hand-raised by an animal caregiver. The gibbon family lived on a small island in the Silver River. Silver Springs sent her to IPPL when she was just a few months old. At that time the facility had a caring management and even helped with housing costs. Elizabeth was (and remains) a thumb-sucker.
We learned that Elizabeth's parents later had two more offspring, who were also removed from their parents, but Silver Spring had changed management and these gibbons never came to IPPL. They entered "the animal underworld." Linda, who loved Elizabeth, and I decided to locate her siblings. Linda learned that Alfie was at a roadside zoo called Reston Zoo in Virginia (which is still there, but under new ownership). Following a DC conference, Linda drove me to Reston Zoo, which was closed for the day. Nothing like that ever deterred our Linda! Fortunately the "guard dog" was a scrawny Great Pyrenees, and we have had several of these dogs at IPPL. So we walked right in to "meet the dog" and the caretaker and I had dog-talk, and he then decided it would be fine to show Linda and me our real "target," Alfie Gibbon! It turned out that Alfie was a total clone of Elizabeth and even more of a thumb-sucker. He could even do one-arm brachiation (arm-swinging is how gibbons move) while sucking him thumb! Alfie even had a mate and baby. Sadly Reston Zoo would not let us adopt the while family. After the change of ownership, Linda, the epitome of persistence, traced Alfie and his mate and baby to an animal dealer in the western part of Virginia, and sadly we lost track of him and his little family.
Linda also found out that the third baby, Miranda, had been sold by
Silver Spring's new management to a Ford dealer named Buddy Jordan who has a game ranch outside San Antonio where Linda had moved. In typical Linda style she kept pestering Jordan to let us come and visit Miranda and we made a special effort when I went to spend a few days in San Antonio. We both begged Jordan to let us see Miranda and were met with a flat-out refusal. We drove round the perimeter of Jordan's huge property carrying binoculars and cameras. No sign of the gibbons - they must have been somewhere in the middle of the huge property. We became worried Miranda might have been re-sold or died.
I dream of reuniting this gibbon family and, wherever she is, I am sure our Linda would jump for joy if we ever make this dream come true....
Linda exemplified compassion for individual animals and was also concerned for the well-being of species. Hence her careful documentation of primate trade statistics. Shortly prior to her death, she had just made a stellar debut on the international primate scene at the International Primatological Society Congress held in Entebbe, Uganda. She had seen her first wild monkeys. Today I have the sad task of telling a new admirer from the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who has just responded to an e-mail Linda sent him on her return from Africa, that she is no longer with us.
Who knows what would have become if Linda had stayed with us? One can only think of the immortal lines,
"For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: 'It might have been!'"
-John Greenleaf Whittier ("Maud Muller," 1854)
Dr. Shirley McGreal, Chairwoman
International Primate Protection League
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Working to Protect All Primates Since 1973