Two Chimps Succumb to Renal Failure, A Deep Loss for the Sanctuary Family, Both Chimp and Human
We first met Anna Banana in New Mexico. She was thin, pale and quiet, but she had a sparkle to her eyes whenever she made eye contact. You could tell she wanted to interact, but she was scared, scarred by her past, and timid. It took a long time to gain her trust after all that she had been through in the name of science.
Anna was born at the Coulston Foundation (laboratory) on February 12th, 1993 and a year later she was transferred to the CDC for hepatitis research. After being infected with Hepatitis C, Anna was given immunoglobulins and then sedated for blood work twice weekly for years. She was called Anna Banana from the day we met her, to the moment we said goodbye.
Daisy was born at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico on February 1, 1982 and transferred between different biomedical labs for many years. Luckily, Daisy and Jennifer, her mother, were part of the “21 original Air Force chimps,” the first chimps that Dr. Carole Noon rescued. Carole had a special fondness for these first chimps and their story is beautifully told in the book, Opening Doors: Carole Noon and Her Dream to Save the Chimps, by Gary Ferguson.*
Here at the Sanctuary, Anna was a member of Seve’s family, a group made up of many strong personalities like Logan, Kioki, Seve, and Wade. Seve and Anna shared a special bond and we often wondered if it was because they both suffered from PTSD and recognized that in each other.
Skye, one of her devoted human caregivers, described Anna this way.
“It is impossible to put into words how special Anna was. She was more timid than the other chimpanzees in her family, but she had a loving demeanor that set her apart. She was gentle and kind to chimps and humans alike. True to her genial nature, Anna preferred not to involve herself in the rambunctious antics or politics of her family. She instead liked to watch from a cozy nest in one of the building’s overhead tunnels. While these nests often contained large blankets and comforters, Anna would supplement her nests with toys, bottles, and even some unique materials. One year after a Chimpmas party, Anna dragged an entire Christmas tree into her tunnel for a nest! She would also love to bring pumpkins given out during Chimpoween into her overhead nest. I was always amazed just what she had hidden amongst the blankets when I cleaned her tunnels”.
Her main caregivers, Carmine, Skye, Deanna, and Brooke often climbed a ladder to feed her rather than disturb her tranquility. Anna loved welcoming visitors, chimps and humans alike. Even as she became more physically uncomfortable due to her failing kidneys, Anna still greeted everyone with a loud pant hoot and a smile. Seve meanwhile preferred hanging with the rambunctious boys but Skye was able to put Seve and Anna alone together for the final days where they spent the time holding hands and grooming each other, a sign of great affection and closeness among chimpanzees.
Daisy meanwhile, was no less special. She was part of Doug’s family and preferred chimps to humans. She too loved the overhead tunnels and would often take her meals there. Daisy was given a choice daily of who she would like to spend her day with — the quiet of Rebel’s smaller subgroup or the larger group with other good friends. Wherever she went, her best friend Angie was always close by. Daisy loved to lounge in the grass under the warm sun surrounded by Angie, Liza, Emily, and Little Rock. Daisy had the respect of everyone due to her high rank in her chimpanzee group and they all supported her dearly even as she neared the end.
Both Daisy and Anna suffered from kidney failure of unknown cause and both showed a quiet endurance throughout the progression of their disease. Unfortunately, treatment options today are very limited and sadly, dialysis is not an option for chimps. As their kidneys failed, they lost their appetites and began to swell from edema. Even as they became uncomfortable, they were both still gracious and kind. When they didn’t feel like eating, Anna would patiently take the special foods offered and place them in her nest and Daisy would quietly turn away. Neither would become angry or frustrated at all of our hovering, and we do hover a lot trying to anticipate their every need. When they clearly began to show signs of real suffering, we helped them go peacefully while tears streamed down our faces. Two more wonderful souls that didn’t deserve the life they were dealt had left us for good. We are grateful they made it to the Sanctuary and had many years of love and comfort.
Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Each chimpanzee who passes at Save the Chimps is cremated with a key to symbolize their final door to freedom.
*Opening Doors: Carole Noon and Her Dream to Save the Chimps, by Gary Ferguson is available for purchase through the Sanctuary. It is the beautifully told story of Dr. Carole Noon and her journey to save chimpanzees and provide a lifelong home for them at Save the Chimps.
It is important to us to honor each chimpanzee who passes away with an individualized tribute. Announcing the loss of one of our residents is not immediate because it takes us time to mourn and put to words the life, memories, and personalities of each individual.
To learn more about how we honor the passing of our beloved residents, click here.