In loving memory of
Emily the 1st





Rescued From

Air Force

About Me

In Memory
1964 – 2024

This is a mournful week at Save the Chimps. 59-year-old Emily, the oldest chimp at the sanctuary, has passed.

Emily was diagnosed with heart disease in 2020, and we had been able to medically manage her condition for over 3 years. But recently her chronic ailment progressed to the point that her quality of life had begun to decline, and there were no further treatment options to help her. To prevent Emily from suffering, our veterinary team made the decision to humanely euthanize her. 

Emily was born in the wild in Africa in 1964. She was captured as an infant, shipped to America, and sold at the International Animal Exchange in Detroit to the infamous Coulston Foundation. At Coulston’s lab in New Mexico, she was used in eye and drug experiments, then put into a breeding program at age seven. After multiple stillbirths, she had Dwight and Ragan, who were taken from her soon after they were born and used in medical tests.   

Emily was part of the original group of twenty-one Air Force chimps rescued by Save the Chimps in 2001.  Because of this, Emily will always have a special place in our history and hearts at the sanctuary. Although never allowed to raise her own young, Emily cherished her role as an adoptive grandmother to Angie, JB, Jude, and other young chimps at the sanctuary, where she regularly groomed and enjoyed spending time with them.

She loved to bathe herself by swigging a mouthful of water and spraying it all over her face while wiping it with her hands – often on her back, joyfully yelping with her legs in the air.


“Emily wasn’t a human-oriented chimp,” says care staffer Jenny Friedman, “she preferred to spend time with her ape family on their 3-acre island. She was a kind, strong-willed, well-respected matriarch who will be missed by the chimps and all of the staff.”


Adds Save the Chimps CEO Ana Paula Tavares: “I am thankful we could give Emily more than two decades of loving care, freedom, and the companionship she deserved. After all she had been through, she taught us the beauty of friendship, love, and forgiveness.”  

Emily will be deeply missed by both sanctuary staff and her chimpanzee family.



“Emily was a kind and strong-willed individual.  She was well respected by all in her family troop and acted as a mother figure to some of the younger chimps who lived with her-especially Angie the 2nd. During our introductions of Tonka, Jacob, and Cayleb to the group, it wasn’t until Emily decided Tonka was ok that Angie finally accepted him.  Emily had a love for coconuts and bananas. She made a very distinct raspberry noise that I know I’ll miss hearing when I walk into Doug’s building again. She could be sassy and it sometimes took a while for her to warm up to new humans, but when she did she would be so sweet. Every morning I walked into Doug’s I was greeted with her raspberry nose and she would gently stick her index finger out towards me in greeting which was so special because she used to use that same finger to try to stab me when I first started.”  Jenny Friedman



  • NA

Favorite Things

  • Hammocks
  • Napping
  • Grooming
  • Coconuts
  • Parties


  • Clever
  • Laid-back
  • Family oriented