In Loving Memory of Emily the 1st


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, she 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.
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Watch this video taken in 2023 as Care Technicians Miranda and Rebecca share their thoughts on Emily.

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