In Loving Memory of Opal


It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of Opal, a smart, warm-hearted chimpanzee who was rescued from the Coulston Foundation in 2002.

She was born on October 4, 1981, in Alamogordo, New Mexico. She spent three months in her mother’s care and, at the age of five months, was transported to the University of Pennsylvania with three other females. Five years later, Opal was returned to Coulston.

At the young age of 11, she was placed into a breeding program but produced no offspring. During that time, she made several female friends, many of whom she had met when she was younger.

Save the Chimps rescued Opal, and 265 other chimpanzees, in September 2002. Opal became a member of Lou’s Family, and together they were transported to our Florida sanctuary, where a three-acre island home awaited.

Opal was a sweet yet sassy lady. She knew what she wanted when she wanted it, especially when it came to food. Her favorites were pistachios, grapefruit, pineapple, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and the peanut butter cheese crackers used when training her to participate in her healthcare.

When a care technician picked up fallen nuts and seeds to re-offer them, she would yell until she had them in her hand. While she did not want to share food with humans, she was generous with Katrina, Rowan, and Arthur, three other chimps in Lou’s Family. They were particularly protective of her, especially Arthur.

While selective about foods, Opal loved enrichment, especially items rich in carbohydrates. She would appear out of thin air when she saw pasta being put in stackers. When the staff spread pasta and seeds on her island, she would spend hours looking for every single piece.

Opal enjoyed spending all her time outdoors, something she had never experienced at Coulston and the university. She would often lounge on the first platform on her island, which was nicknamed Opal’s platform because she spent so much time there.

After staff cleaned the group’s indoor housing, she would come inside the island’s covered area, take a fresh blanket, wrap it around herself, and walk back out to the platform.

Opal became close friends with Olivia and Katrina. As they were older residents, the three became known to staff and donors as the Golden Girls.

Opal passed away on February 2nd and while full results are pending, the cause appears to be related to preexisting cardiac and kidney diseases.

Make a donation in honor of Opal.