Have you ever been forced to eat cigarettes, just because people think it’s funny?

Have you ever been forced to burn under the stifling sun for twelve hours at a time, with nowhere to shelter?

Have you ever been at the brink of death from freezing cold, with not even a cardboard box to cover your aching body, let alone a blanket?

Have you ever been forced to defecate in the same place where you must also eat, sleep and rest ; confined to a minuscule cage for four long years? 

Have you ever been beaten harshly and incessantly, with no chance to defend yourself?

Has anyone ever used your home as a waste bin, discarding their trash over your head, making the humiliation and pain of such a life even more unbearable?

Have you ever been constantly exposed to bullies twice your size and treated like a slave in an absurd little circus, where everyone kicks you around and inflicts on you the brunt of all their personal inadequacies, insecurities and complexes?

Have you ever been isolated from your own kind for years, without hope of relief from your purgatory

_____________Lola's Story_____________

If you think that Lola, a four-year old female baboon, had the choice to avoid any of the aforementioned unspeakable conditions then you’re deeply mistaken. Her every waking minute was occupied with the anguish of being unable to relieve her suffering.

She tried hard to break out of her enslavement on a number of occasions to escape her horrible living conditions, but her efforts always came to nothing and she was always severely punished. Lola was imprisoned, and no escape was possible. 

Without physical and mental stimulation her resignation to her situation had become obvious. She would ceaselessly spin around in one spot in her rusty metal cage. She could hardly stand up and stretch her body. The fruits and other foods a healthy baboon would normally eat were always denied to her and, instead of apples and bananas, she was forced to eat scraps of dry bread and sometimes only cigarette tips! Without a reliable supply of water she was parched and dehydrated most of the time.

Whilst assisting an international investigation into the smuggling of chimpanzees in Lebanon, one of BETA’s (Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) rescuers and co-founders spotted Lola in an appalling pet shop in one of Lebanon’s shadiest areas. She was clearly beginning to give up on life.

After a few phone calls the BETA team decided to attempt to rescue Lola from her misery and give her a better life.  After all, this was the bare minimum she had always deserved!

With the help of some brave local people (details must remain undisclosed) BETA was able to release Lola from the clutches of her tormentors. It is not hard to imagine the disastrous alternative of a child buying her as a pet, or worse still , being doomed to staying in her tiny cage until a premature death released her.

All the sudden attention, affection and care, took some considerable adjustment. The unexpected shift from cruelty and abuse to love and consideration must have left her in a  dream and she could not fully comprehend this new development. She did not really care about food; it was affection and tenderness she craved!

Lola stayed with BETA for 10 days, during which time they made the arrangements with Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary to provide her with a permanent home. The WSPA asked Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary in South Wales, UK, if they would look after Lola for the rest of her life and were pleased to receive confirmation by return.

Graham and Jan Garen, owners of Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary, did not hesitate in welcoming Lola into their sanctuary. They had participated in a number of successful baboon rescues initiated by BETA and thought that Tom, another recently arrived ex Lebanon baboon, who was still in quarantine, may even welcome her as a partner.

Graham's experience with the onerous, but necessary, legal documents required to get Lola out of Lebanon and into the United Kingdom was vital to Lola's speedy transfer to South Wales. The poor animal had already suffered so much stress that to prolong it any longer than absolutely necessary would have been a travesty.

On March 22, 2006 Lola joined Tom at Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary. Tom was also rescued recently by BETA and is featured at http://beta.beirut.com/viewNew.php?ID=192, where you can see him in his new home!

Lola's rescue would all have been much harder, if not impossible, without the financial support of WSPA. All the airline companies approached by BETA and Graham Garen had agreed to fly Lola on a commercial basis only, which would have made it a really complicated and expensive operation. WSPA courageously stepped up and granted BETA the sum of UK₤ 1,600 to fly Lola’s crate from London to Beirut, and then back to London with Lola in it.

BETA, a WSPA Member Society, thanks Trevor Wheeler, WSPA Middle East Projects Director, for his prompt and invaluable assistance. While BETA and Graham were desperately searching for the means to fund Lola’s flight, Trevor Wheeler instantly solved the dilemma! Thank you Trevor! Thank you WSPA for all the wonderful and indispensable work you do for animals worldwide!

We will not forget the IPPL (The International Primate Protection League) who also granted funds to help cover some of Lola’s quarantine expenses. Thank you IPPL!

Each and every member of BETA and all the persons who got to know Lola and enjoy the pleasure of her company wish her a marvellous life with Tom!

Keep on checking Lola’s link for more updates and new pictures.

This story would not have had a happy ending had it not been for the bravery, compassion and dedication of a number of organisations and individuals who responded when they were needed.