I was born in the wild, my exact date of birth is unknown but I am estimated to have been born in 1964. Chimpanzee mothers are very protective of their offspring, so the only way to capture a baby in the wild would be to kill the mother and any other group members who stood in the way. I was sold to a lab and forced into a life very different from the one I had known. I arrived at The Coulston Foundation, a biomedical research laboratory, in May 1968 from the International Animal Exchange in Detroit, Michigan. I was used for an eye refraction study and a “classified drug evaluation.” I entered the breeding program at the very young age of approximately seven years old and gave birth to my first daughter two years later. After multiple stillbirths, I gave birth to my second baby, Dwight. During the time we were allowed to stay together, I held him close, nursed and grooming him. I was described as playing with his hands and feet in a loving way. Despite our bond, he was sent to the nursery to be raised by human caregivers at five days old. Three years later I gave birth to another son, Ragan, who stayed with me for only a day.
I remained at Coulston until Save the Chimps (STC) rescued me in 2001. I was a member of the Air Force Group, who were the first chimpanzees rescued by STC. Although I was never allowed to raise any of my own babies, later in life I had the opportunity to play the role of adoptive grandmother to Angie, JB, and Jude, babies born at STC due to a failed vasectomy. Our relationship has given me the chance to experience the joy of raising children that I was deprived of during my years in the lab. Even though Angie has grown up, I am still very protective of her. We spend many hours together grooming and enjoying each other’s company. I show her the love and patience I tried to bestow on my own children and Angie’s life has been enriched as a result.
I have a close bond with Garfield, a charming male in my family group who was also among the first chimpanzees rescued by STC. We first met when he was a young boy and I have watched him grow into a magnificent adult. Garfield has a deep respect for his elders and I have an extra special place in his heart. He keeps watch over me and will wait for me to come inside for meals. Being the gentleman he is, sometimes he even helps me through the door whether I feel I need it or not!
The laboratory caregivers noted I liked to “bathe” myself which is something I still do today. I will get a big mouth full of water and spit it all over my face like a fountain while wiping my face with my hands. Often times when I do this I lie on my back and kick my legs in the air while making a very distinct vocalization. I treasure the time I get to spend with my family on our 3-acre island in Florida.
It’s a beautiful experience to watch this amazing lady, who has overcome so much in her life, live out her retirement on her island in the sun. She has a dignity and grace surrounding her that commands respect. The strong bond she has with her family is a beautiful thing to see and is an honor and a privilege to witness. If you would like to support her life in sanctuary, donate today.
- Family oriented