Please join us in honoring the memories of Alison and Spike, two beloved chimps we lost this week after they enjoyed more than two decades at the sanctuary. 

At 54, Alison was among the most senior residents at Save the Chimps, known for her quiet strength and devotion. She was one of the dwindling group of surviving chimps wild-caught in Africa and shipped to the U.S. for medical experiments. 

Alison was purchased by the Coulston Foundation from an animal trader when she was five and used in tests that involved weekly blood draws until she was ten, when she was transferred to a breeding program. Over the next twenty years, she gave birth to at least eight babies, most of whom were taken away immediately, which caused her deep anxiety. She was allowed to help raise three of them, however, and records note that Alison was one of the “best mothers” and that “she raised big, healthy babies with strong survival skills.”


Alison’s first three decades may have been marked by misery and confinement, but her last two were filled with freedom and companionship on the grass-covered island at Save the Chimps known as Tapioca’s. She spent the majority of her time with Sally, another elderly resident who is now 51. Her island family also included several rambunctious young males, but feisty Alison wasn’t someone who could be pushed around. She was loyal to her chimp friends, though slow to warm up to her human caregivers. But once an individual gained her trust, Alison showed her sweet, gentle side.

Since 2021, Alison had been treated for skin lesions but recently stopped responding to medication. As the painful lesions spread, tests showed that she was suffering from an aggressive form of cancer. Due to these quality of life concerns and the poor prognosis, the chimp care team and veterinary staff made the decision to humanely euthanize her on May 1. We mourn her loss but are thankful to have known her. Alison, who made countless friends in her golden years at Save the Chimps, will always remain in our hearts.  

Spike, the stoic mediator, passed away peacefully on April 28 of natural causes on Tanya’s Island. At 33, he was known as one of the most resilient residents at Save the Chimps because of how he bounced back from an incredibly dire past.

Spike was born at the infamous Coulston Foundation, taken from his mother within hours, and placed in the laboratory nursery. Eventually, he was moved into a barren building dubbed “The Dungeon,” for its dark and dismal conditions. There he remained until 2002 when Save the Chimps took over Coulston and rescued him along with 265 other chimpanzees. 


Once at the sanctuary, on Tanya’s hilly island, Spike found a life of both joy and purpose. He loved playing tug of war and being tickled, but he was also an excellent mediator when arguments arose. And the group respected him. Spike played a key role in helping Allie, a former pet, become part of Tanya’s family. Allie had never been around other chimps before and did not know how to communicate, but Spike took her under his wing and showed her the ropes. Because of his guidance, Allie learned to become a chimp and a beloved member of the family on Tanya’s, where she thrives today. Spike was a pillar of the community and is sorely missed.

All donations in their honor will be matched by an anonymous supporter.