It is with a heavy heart that we share with you the passing of Luke, the alpha male of Kiley’s Family, one of the 12 island communities at Save the Chimps. Exhibiting strength and wisdom, he always looked out for his group.
Luke was born on January 8, 1999, to Alf and Elaine at the Coulston Foundation, a research lab in Alamogordo, New Mexico, that was later closed due to animal mistreatment. His twin sister, Leia, was allowed to remain with his mother. Luke was taken from them to be raised in the laboratory nursery and, fortunately, he was never used in biomedical research protocols.
Luke was one of nine frightened chimpanzee babies living together at Coulston when Save the Chimps took over in 2002. Lacking the comfort and protection of their mothers, they clung to each other, rocking in anxiety. Over time, all were placed into family groups where they received love and care from adult chimps.
In 2007, Luke and other chimps from the lab moved to island homes in Florida. Luke had never been allowed to run free, so it took time for him to adjust to the open-air, uncaged environment. He learned the joys of running up and down hills and basking in warm breezes.
Luke was a very handsome chimp who loved watching himself in a mirror. His caregivers shared that he would carry it around and watch everything he did while gazing at his reflection. He would make a silly noise — a low drawn-out grumble — when he wanted his caregiver’s attention for juice or specific food items.
His cause of death is still to be determined, but by all observable measures, his passing was peaceful.
Luke was a strong and wise alpha and kept the group dynamics running smoothly. He will be deeply missed by both the staff of Save the Chimps and his chimpanzee family.
At Save the Chimps, we are heartbroken when one of our chimpanzee friends is taken from us. Losing a chimpanzee is like losing both a good friend and a family member — each has an extraordinary and unique personality and each will be missed both by their chimpanzee family and their human family — the staff, volunteers, and loving supporters of Save the Chimps.
Your support makes everything we do possible. Thanks to your generosity, our chimpanzee residents are able to live out their lives with peace and dignity.
Thank you for honoring those who have passed by making a donation in their name.