Dr. Carole Noon

Dr. Carole Noon

Founder of Save the Chimps

We’re at the end of Carole Noon Lane on the grounds of Save the Chimps, a 190-acres sanctuary in the Florida Flatwoods. The grounds here are divided into twelve three-acre islands, one per ‘family.’ Each parcel is outfitted with hurricane-proof concrete dwellings and what look like oversized park playground structures. During our time on the grounds, some of the chimps have taken an interest in our presence and our interviews, watching bemusedly from their far off perches.

This sanctuary would not be here without the tenacity of its founder, Dr. Carole Noon. It doesn’t take long into interviews with friends and staff before a very clear image comes to light – Dr. Noon was a force of nature who would not take no for an answer.

In 1997, the US Air Force was set to ‘retire’ the 141 chimpanzees in its space program. With only $150,000 and no sanctuary to speak of, Dr. Noon submitted a bid to purchase these animals, unsurprisingly, to no avail. Instead, most of the chimps were sold to the Coulson Foundation, a medical research lab in New Mexico. The chimps would be sent to live in isolation in the dungeons of Coulston, suspended in 5’x5’x7’ metal cages while awaiting the next experiment.

And so, Dr. Noon sued the Air Force in 1997. In 2001, after four years of legal battles, the first chimps arrived at their new home in Florida. Dr. Noon succeeded in her mission and spent the final years of her life dedicated to her cause. In 2009, she passed away at her home on the sanctuary grounds.

Dr. Noon’s legacy lives on in the over 250 chimpanzees who have been rescued from research, entertainment, and the exotic pet trade and who now call Save the Chimps their home.

“One thing about Carole is she did not take no for an answer. If someone told her she could not do something, that was the guarantee she was going to make it happen.”

Film and story by Kelly Guerin. Photos by Jo-Anne McArthur. 

Invisible

Invisible

“People need to see it.”

‘INVISIBLE’ follows two undercover investigators, ‘Emily’ and ‘Sarah’ (their names have been changed to protect their identities), on a pig farm investigation in Europe, offering the viewer an unprecedented glimpse into a world that is deliberately and painstakingly covert.

In a ‘double-life’ kept secret from their day jobs and family lives, Emily and Sarah choose to visit and document the stark and often brutal conditions of farms and slaughterhouses to bring attention to the suffering inherent in animal exploitation.

As darkness falls and the investigation unfolds, Emily and Sarah reveal what drives them to leave their loved ones in the night, the emotional impact of documenting animal cruelty first-hand, and how their friendship allows them to continue carrying out such traumatic work in spite of the psychological cost.

Finally, the evidence gathered and the investigation complete, they leave without a trace – invisible.

Directed by Chris Shoebridge

What inspired Chris to tell this story?

“In 2009 I saw undercover slaughter footage for the first time, and it changed the course of my life. This profound shift happened only because an investigator – an anonymous activist who I will never know nor ever be able to thank – risked their safety and freedom to expose the reality of our relationship with animals. Many of us owe a similar debt to undercover investigators, but how often do we think about what they risk, and what they sacrifice? Do we even know what it takes?

 

While I believe we must be mindful to centre the animals in our activism, I believe it is also important to celebrate the work of those whose passion and bravery drive our mission forward. Not just to honour those people but also, hopefully, to inspire such passion and bravery in others.

 

While Emily and Sarah are just two of the invisible womxn who make our movement possible, this film is a broader ‘thank you’ to every undercover investigator who has taken risks to help animals, and to every womxn who has never received the recognition she deserves yet without whom our movement simply could not exist.”

Ondine Sherman

Ondine Sherman

Ondine Sherman is a tireless and trailblazing animal advocate. In 2004, Ondine teamed up with her father Brian Sherman to co-found Voiceless, which has since grown to become one of the most prominent animal protection and animal law organizations in Australia. In addition to Voiceless, Ondine is a full-time mother of three and has published a memoir about her journey with her twins who have disabilities​, as well as three young adult novels with prominent themes of animal activism.

Unbound filmmaker Kelly Guerin visited Ondine at her beautiful home in Israel, surrounded by adoring rescue dogs and former battery chickens. As Ondine is uniquely poised to share insight into balancing activism and motherhood, she shared with Unbound how she has been able to dissolve the seemingly rigid lines between the two, and continue to change the world for animals.

Learn more about Ondine’s work and books.

Filming and editing by Kelly Guerin.

Elsie Herring

Elsie Herring

“It’s just an ugly industry.”

In September 2018, the We Animals Media team travelled to North Carolina to document the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and its devastating impacts on the environment, animals, and local residents. During their time in Duplin County, filmmaker Kelly Guerin met Elsie Herring, the great-granddaughter of a freed slave who became an environmental activist after a hog CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) replaced the small family farm next door to her family’s property. The farm, like countless others around it, employed the standard industry practice of spraying manure on to fields as a waste disposal system. The spray drifted onto Elsie’s family home every day and soon, her family began experiencing serious health problems, such as respiratory and skin infections.

“As we sat on her front porch for our interview, the sprinklers kicked on and Elsie had to hold a paper towel over her mouth so she could continue to speak. We spoke at length about her experiences watching the farming in Duplin transform into the massive industry it is today and how it has impacted the lives of everyone around them. She spoke about the emerging understanding of environmental racism, that these colossal and toxic farms are often constructed strategically in poor communities of colour where residents have little political clout to raise in protest. And she emphasized, hauntingly, that the issues we were seeing post-Florence, in reality had little to do with hurricanes; for residents of Duplin county, this was life.”

Filming by Kelly Guerin / Editing by Nardine Groch

Wendy Valentine

Wendy Valentine

“It’s a job for the tough.”

Wendy Valentine has dedicated her life to helping animals in need. In 1995, with just 20 acres of land, she founded Hillside Animal Sanctuary, after witnessing firsthand the plight of the battery hen. Since then, Valentine has campaigned and helped care for thousands of animals, particularly those who suffer in the factory farming industry. Today, Hillside covers 2000 acres of land and is home to over 3000 animals.

BAFTA-winning filmmaker Alex Lockwood (Lockwood Film) created this short character piece for the Unbound Project about Wendy and her life’s work.

What led Lockwood to tell Valentine’s story?

“My short documentary 73 Cows had involved a scene at Hillside Animal Sanctuary. We only shot there for a day, but I’d since wanted to make a follow-up film, orientated around the amazing work that the sanctuary does, and specifically Wendy, the sanctuary’s founder. This summer we went back to Hillside to film this short character piece to explore what drives Wendy in her quest to help so many animals.”

Directed by Alex Lockwood – Lockwood Film

Tracy Hilda Dukim

Tracy Hilda Dukim

“We want to make Sabah a place where every animal is valued and protected.”

Tracy Hilda Dukim co-founded the nonprofit organization Borneo Animal Welfare Society, Sabah (BAWSS) with her friends when witnessing firsthand the desperate need for population control throughout Malaysia. Under Dukim’s leadership, BAWSS advocates for Borneo’s stray cats and dogs through innovative, educational and humane programs.

This is Unbound’s first project in collaboration with world-renowned filmmaker and photojournalist Aaron Gekoski.

What led Gekoski to tell Dukim’s story?

“Having lived in Sabah for three years, I first became aware of BAWSS via their educational programs and mass sterilization drives. Their achievements – as an all female enterprise – are remarkable given they are operating in a predominantly patriarchal society, and a place where attitudes towards strays can be apathetic at best. The womxn work relentlessly in order to help cats and dogs in Sabah, seeking little recognition for their endeavors. This short film shines a light on their incredible efforts.”

Directed by Aaron Gekoski