A Tribute to Roxy, Gromek, and Cooper

Save the Chimps honors the memories of three incredible and inspiring individuals, who endured and overcame adversity with grace and dignity:  Roxy, Gromek, and Cooper.

Roxy 175  Gromek 175  Super Cooper 175

“What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes part of us.”
~Helen Keller


Roxy, Beloved Mother
Roxy 600
It’s difficult to imagine the sorrow that Roxy must have felt during her many years as a “breeder” at The Coulston Foundation, the laboratory that forced her to have eight children, and then took them all from her. What kind of confusion and emptiness must she have endured after waking up to find that the infant who was in her loving arms had simply vanished? Save the Chimps first got an inkling of Roxy’s desire to be a mother when we provided stuffed toys to the chimps for the first time. Roxy mostly ignored stuffed teddy bears or other dolls, but treated toy chimps and monkeys as if they were her children. She carried them and groomed them just as she would an infant.  Although Save the Chimps does not breed, we expected that there would one day be an opportunity for Roxy to become an adoptive mother. Roxy’s dreams of motherhood came true when young Marlon and Dylan entered her life.

Marlon and Dylan had been born to two former research chimpanzees living at a facility that was experiencing financial difficulty. Marlon’s mother died, and Dylan’s mother was inexperienced and did not know how to care for a baby. STC agreed to take in the two infants, and caregiver Millie Weary loved and cared for them until they were old enough to safely be introduced to other chimpanzees. We knew exactly who would be best to be their new mother: Roxy. Roxy was thrilled, and together with the boys’ “big sister” Janice, she became Marlon and Dylan’s loving protector and guide. She comforted them during their cross-country move to Florida, and helped them to become a member of a large chimpanzee family, Ron’s Group.

Sadly, Roxy has passed away of complications related to thrombosis (the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel, obstructing the flow of blood through the circulatory system).  Born in Sierra Leone in the early 1960s, she was estimated to be at least 49 years old.Roxy is survived by the children she never knew: Brandon, Brandy, Eboni, Jimbo, and Spanky, all of whom are residents of Save the Chimps. She also has a son, Huby, believed to be a resident of Texas Biomedical Research Institute. Roxy lives on in the hearts and memories of her sons Marlon and Dylan, as well as her devoted caregivers.

Roxy, we hope you rest easy knowing that Janice, Tammy, and the other members of your extended family will continue to watch out for your boys and shower them with love and affection.


Gromek, Elder Statesman
 Gromek Adopt a chimp 600
If there was ever a role model for maintaining dignity in the face of a lifetime of adversity, it was Gromek. One of Save the Chimps’ oldest chimpanzees, Gromek was born in Africa, and was captured and brought to the US in the early 1960s. He endured incredibly invasive research, including the placement of electrodes into his skull and biopsies of his liver and kidneys. He found peace at last when Dr. Carole Noon secured his release in 2001. He made an immediate impression on her, and provided her with some of her fondest memories:

“The Air Force chimps were released onto the island on Dec. 11, 2001. That very first day, after exploring the island with his friends, Gromek assumed the position. Flat on his back, legs wide open since there was no wall to prop them against, Gromek stared at the sky. I was overwhelmed…I immediately looked up to see what he saw—a beautiful blue sky, white cotton clouds, and the occasional bird flying by. I was struck with Gromek’s brave heart. After 40 some years of staring at a ceiling, he was calmly watching the infinite sky.”And about a month later…

“One night in January I was working at my computer around 9 pm. It was dark out. Suddenly I heard someone stomping on the big platform. This was a first. Who could it be? I opened the door and sat on the steps as my eyes adjusted to the dark. Yep, somebody was on the platform stomping and making noise. I realized it was Gromek, right about the time he let out the most amazing pant hoot. He pounded his feet a few more times, and then went back [inside.] Again, I looked up to see what Gromek could see. It was a black sky just filled with stars. It occurred to me Gromek hadn’t seen the stars for 40 years—not since the night before his mother was killed. I will never know what he was thinking. But I have a pretty good idea that Gromek was announcing himself to the night, to the stars…to the world.”

Gromek was a chimp’s chimp, mostly serious, although if you worked really hard at it, you could crack his stoic demeanor and get him to play and smile. But what was most important to him was his chimp family, and so it is fitting that he passed away among them. His died of sudden heart failure at the estimated age of 52. He is survived by his children Alora, Zeus, and Val, who also reside at STC. Gromek has other children still in research labs: Ariah, Axl, Bert, Donnie, Veenstra, and Wimpy. Gromek, we miss your oh-so-handsome face, calm demeanor, and kind spirit.


Cooper, Gentle Soul
Super Cooper 175
Cooper was one of Save the Chimps’ canine residents, a big dog with an even bigger heart. He came to us about two years ago, when our veterinarian, Dr. Jocelyn Bezner, found him in the road leading to the sanctuary. He was emaciated and nearly hairless—and in desperate need of help. Although we are a chimpanzee sanctuary, there have always been a few dogs who call STC home. Cooper was welcomed into the family. Thanks to top-notch medical care as well as loads of love from staff and volunteers, Cooper soon regained his health and a thick shiny coat of hair, although there was no doubt that he was a senior dog entering his twilight years. He loved basking in the sun (not unlike our chimp residents!) and reveled in a good back scratch or neck massage. Sadly, Cooper developed cancer and died peacefully surrounded by his beloved humans, as well as his canine friend Carter. Thank you, Cooper, for stopping traffic and finding your way to us.


Thank you for YOUR generosity, compassion, and support.

Thank you for giving all of our residents the lives they have always deserved.  Thank you for making our work possible.  

Our Mission:To provide and build support for permanent sanctuary for the lifelong care of chimpanzees rescued from research laboratories, entertainment, and the pet trade.