Patti Ragan, founder of The Center for Great Apes

by | May 13, 2020

Owing to the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing Stay at Home order, I produced and recorded this show remotely from home, the fifth program prepared this way at the Talking Animals corporate headquarters in Jupiter Farms, Florida, and likely the way the broadcast will come together for the next few weeks.

Patti Ragan—the founder of The Center for Great Apes, the sanctuary in Wauchula, Florida Ragan started 27 years ago that houses chimpanzees and orangutans—provides some updates on the facility, having been a guest on the show twice before. Because over the last few weeks I’ve been checking in with various animal-oriented operations—shelters, clinics, businesses and so on—to see how they’ve been affected by COVID-19, I raised that question with Ragan. She immediately expresses her concern for the safety of her staff and volunteers, and outlines the changes and accommodations she’s made at The Center, noting that the apes seem baffled about where the volunteers they’d routinely see had vanished to. I mentioned that science-based articles and journal pieces have indicated that COVID-19 posed a considerable risk to great apes, both in the wild and in captivity. As with most nonprofits, the coronavirus-related restrictions have yielded considerable impact on The Center for Great Apes’ fundraising, with events postponed (though they generated a terrific response on Giving Tuesday).  Ragan and I also discuss a momentous development, something that had never happened in the Center’s 27-year history: the birth of a baby ape! Orangutan, to be precise. Mother (Sunshine) and baby (Cahaya) are doing fine, as is Father (Archie). Ragan makes a point of clarifying that are reasons that breeding does not take place at an accredited, top-tier sanctuary—indeed no breeding is part of the criteria that’s considered for a sanctuary to become accredited. Ragan explained that they provide vasectomies to some apes there, other forms of birth control to others—and that Sunshine getting pregnant was a totally anomaly, but that they’ve warmly welcomed little Cahaya, and her arrival has brought joy and happiness amidst an often-tough time. (,,

COMEDY CORNER:  Ellen DeGeneres’ “Nature and Insects” (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” The Kink’s “Ape Man,” Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Snake Farm,” Damien Jurado’s “Birds Tricked into the Tree,” EELS’ “Dog-Faced Boy” (alternate version), Sonny Landreth’s “Mule,”  Cucumber’s “It’s Hippotime,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  Bobby Day’s  “Rockin’ Robin”


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