Dana first graced the world with her presence in 1960, somewhere in the rainforests of Sierra Leone, Africa. She grew up in a loving and nurturing atmosphere, surrounded by her family, playmates, and the beauty of nature.
Unfortunately, Dana’s happy and comfortable life was taken from her much too soon as a gunshot rang out across the forest. She was then shipped off across the world to an Air Force Base in New Mexico after seeing her mother pass away in front of her. Suddenly, she was Dana, Air Force Chimp #625, and she had the tattoos on her chest and leg to show for it.
Dana strongly withstood 35 years in that Air Force Base, undergoing treacherous and grueling “experiments”, such as having her kidney removed and implanted into a poor baboon, and having implants inserted into her skull to send drugs up to her central nervous system. Her life at that dim concrete and dirt base could be no more different than her past warm and happy life in Africa.
Still, despite all the awful encounters she had with humanity, Dana pushed on. In 2001, her life changed completely and for the better–she was rescued and sent off to Florida by Save the Chimps.
Dana never failed to amaze those around her with her kindness and social skills. Dr. Carole Noon, our late founder, recalled noticing these social skills the day after Dana and her friends arrived at the sanctuary. Dr. Noon had been trying to get the new members to socialize with each other and decided that Dana would pair well with another chimpanzee, Hanzie, who had undergone similar encounters as Dana. Dana made the first move with Hanzie, and soon enough, they were playing with each other like old pals. Dana went on to meet the other chimpanzees with ease, soon becoming Dr. Noon’s trusted partner in uniting the Air Force Base chimpanzee rescue group, as well as introducing new members to the group.
Dana was later moved to Doug’s family as she aged, in hopes that this would provide a less rowdy and overall better environment for her. Dana became the matriarch of the family, and she always welcomed every new member of the family with open arms. Dana held a special gift for making everyone feel connected, engaged, and welcome, and there was never a chimpanzee who did not immediately love and respect her.
As time passed, Dana’s eyesight faded, but her spirit never did. She enjoyed snuggling in a nest of blankets in the tunnels on cool days while feeling the warm air coming from the vents. She loved her juicy oranges and never failed to reject apples that still had stems attached (a quirk of hers that we still cannot explain).
On May 6, 2012, Dana went to take a nap by the cattails in the warm Florida sun after having her lunch. She passed away peacefully in her sleep with her friend Daisy by her side.
After everything Dana went through, she was able to leave this world in the lovely and peaceful manner that she was brought into it with. She always pushed through whatever obstacle life threw at her, and she never lost her love for this world, making sure to spread it with every being she met.
It is because of chimpanzees like Dana that we always strive to provide the most love and care that we can for these sweet beings. It is because of our donors that we are able to continue providing a better life for these chimpanzees, and we hope Dana’s spirit has moved you enough today to decide to contribute to our cause. Donate In Dana’s Memory.
- Meeting other chimps