“I dont think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains”
~ Anne Frank 
Tanya July 2012

With a bittersweet mixture of fondness and sadness, Save the Chimps remembers and honors Tanya, an extraordinary chimpanzee with a powerful spirit. Tanya passed away April 20 of complications resulting from heart disease and stroke. She is believed to have been at least 43 years old, but her true age and place of birth are a mystery, as there are few records of her life. All that is known is that Tanya was a biomedical research subject in not one, but two research labs, New Iberia Primate Research Center and The Coulston Foundation. At Coulston, she gave birth to five children, only two of whom survived: her daughter Shellie, also a resident of Save the Chimps, and daughter Mary, believed to be a resident of Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF) on Holloman Air Force Base.  In 2002, Tanya embarked on a new life in sanctuary, when Save the Chimps took over The Coulston Foundation.



Tanya’s strong personality gained her many admirers amongst the Save the Chimps staff and volunteers. She knew what she wanted, when she wanted it, and she was not shy about sharing her opinions and feelings. She did not accept overtures of friendship from humans easily, but once you cracked through her tough exterior, you were in. She had a special greeting for those she was happy to see, a blend of a groan and a grunt that was unique to Tanya—and an honor to receive. You were also wrapped around her little finger, for woe to the human who did not honor her request for an extra banana or a bottle of juice.
In New Mexico, Tanya was known for predicting the weather. Long before a storm rolled in, she would become anxious, pace, and point at the handle that her caregivers used to close the door that led to her outside cage. We would close the door at her request, which would relax her a bit, but she refused to eat until the storm had passed by. Additionally, she became very angry if even one drop of water inadvertently splashed on her while her caregivers were cleaning. We worried about how she would adjust to Florida, which had far more frequent and lengthy storms than seen in the New Mexican desert. We worried that the rains would turn her off to island life. However, as it turns out, we needn’t have worried.

Tanya and her dear friend Little Rock made the long cross-country journey to Florida, and

Tanya Nov 2011
Tanya on the island she loved

arrived at their island home at Save the Chimps. Tanya was released onto the island, and she immediately marched out to the furthest reaches of her new home and began to explore. And wouldn’t you know it, it started to rain.  Tanya’s human friends despaired that her first outing was ruined. But much to everyone’s surprise and joy, she remained outdoors, never protesting the drops of water that sprinkled down upon her. From that moment on, her fear of storms vanished, and she became known for being one of the few chimps who enjoyed sitting outside during a summer shower. (In true Tanya fashion, however, she continued to protest if a drop of water landed on her during cleaning!) She enjoyed in equal measure the warm sunshine, and could often be found on sunny days sprawled out flat on her back in the grass, arms spread wide, gazing at the sky above.


Tanya & Dana 2010
Tanya & Dana

Tanya was a beloved member of her family, known as Doug’s Group. She was absolutely worshiped by Andrea the Second (the younger of two Andreas at STC), and remained close to Little Rock. She also had special friends in Rebel and Daisy, but all of her fellow chimpanzees admired and respected her. When she suffered a stroke which reduced her mobility, her family members always treated her with gentleness and kindness. She did not let her stroke stop her enjoyment of life one bit. Although she moved more slowly, she gamely continued to go outside to enjoy the grass and earth beneath her feet, and the sun and clouds overhead. For all of the suffering Tanya must have endured during her life in biomedical research, she was able to revel in and enjoy the beauty that surrounded her.

Miss Tanya, you will always be loved, admired, and adored. Your strength and determination are an inspiration.

We will always be reminded of you when it rains—and when it shines.Rest in peace, dear friend.

Thank you for supporting Save the Chimps and providing Tanya and over 250 others, the life they have always deserved.