Katherine & Gogi Tribute

 January 30, 2012
Katherine Gogi


The hearts of all of us at Save the Chimps are breaking at the loss of two powerful, determined, magnificent chimpanzees: Katherine and Gogi. Both Katherine and Gogi passed away as a result of complications related to stroke and heart disease. Katherine passed away on January 18, 2012. Gogi left us a week later, on January 25, 2012. 


Katherine was born June 5, 1984 at the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP), a lab in New York State that closed its doors in the late 1990s. We have no records of her life there. However, we do know that the chimps at LEMSIP were typically housed alone for most of their lives in a 5’ x 5’ x 7’ cage suspended off of the floor like a birdcage and frequently anesthetized for research protocols.

When LEMSIP closed, Katherine was selected to move to a facility known as Wild Animal Orphanage (WAO) in San Antonio, TX. However, WAO did not yet have a facility available for Katherine and the other chimps chosen to move to WAO. Katherine was sent to New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) on May 16, 1996. Again, no records were received to indicate what her life was like there. On October 19, 2000, Katherine was transferred to WAO, which had constructed a living area for her and other rescued chimps. There Katherine lived in a small group of former LEMSIP chimps who, like her, had been waiting at NIRC for retirement.

Katherine resided at WAO for more than ten years. WAO went bankrupt, however, and sought placement for its residents, which included monkeys, tigers, lions, bears, and chimpanzees. Save the Chimps was able to rescue eleven chimpanzees from Wild Animal Orphanage. Katherine and her friends Late, Wally, Mandingo, Tina, Kayla, and Katina moved to Save the Chimps’ New Mexico location on March 10, 2011 to be integrated into a larger group of chimpanzees. There they met Kaleb, Marc, Dwight, Ace, Oliver, Tyra, Comet, Pam, and Lisa. On August 25, 2011, Katherine and her family arrived at their island home in Florida. Katherine loved the island and her new found freedom, and often refused to come indoors. Her place was on the grass, the rolling hills, and shaded platforms of her new home. Although we did not know Katherine for long, her strength and beauty quickly endeared her to us, and her absence is deeply felt.


Gogi was a member of the original Air Force chimpanzee family who were the first residents of Save the Chimps. She was also one of our most senior chimpanzees, estimated to be at least 46 years old. Gogi was born in Sierra Leone sometime in the early 1960s, where she was captured after her mother was shot and killed.  Gogi was then sent to Holloman Air Force Base (HAFB) in Alamogordo, NM in 1967.  In 1969 Gogi was used as a subject in tests that appear to be related to space flight.  She was placed in a chamber to study the effects of rapid decompression, and she was forced on another occasion to breathe CO2-enriched air.  Her records also indicate she was put in a suit and placed in a restraint chair, similar to the type of training the early space chimps received.


From 1970 to 1974, Gogi was sent to a research laboratory in Phoenix.  When she was returned to HAFB, Gogi entered the breeding program, and she gave birth to several children over the years, including STC residents Nigida and Alora.  Save the Chimps (STC) rescued Gogi in 2001 and she moved to Florida, where she was released onto a three-acre island with other Air Force chimps.  In 2003, Gogi gave birth to Jude, as a result of a failed vasectomy.  While STC regretted that Gogi would have to spend her well-deserved retirement raising a son, Gogi was an excellent mother.  She enjoyed relaxing in the Florida sunshine and exploring her island home with her son at her heels.

Gogi was an amazing chimpanzee who was an inspiration. Kind but powerful, she commanded respect. She had a zeal for life, which became even more apparent to us when she was diagnosed with severe heart disease. But despite her illness, she enjoyed life to the fullest, spending her days searching her island for the hidden goodies scattered by her caregivers, or lounging in the cool grass. She was adored by her son Jude, and was a beloved member of her chimpanzee family, and was especially dear to her friends Jennifer, Debbie, and Gromek. Her passing was deeply felt by all of us who admired and loved her with all of our hearts.

Both Katherine and Gogi shared a strength of character that we should all hope to have. They experienced terrible suffering and adversity in their lives, but did not let it bow them. They embraced their new lives and enjoyed every moment to the fullest. Save the Chimps pays tribute to these two remarkable chimpanzees.  

Rest in peace Katherine & Gogi. We love you. 


In Memory of Katherine & Gogi


“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.”
 ~Thich Nhat Hanh

View more photos of Katherine & Gogi here

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