Save the Chimps is saddened to announce the passing of a magnificent chimpanzee, Juan. Juan was born August 13, 1975 at a chimpanzee breeding facility in Laveen, AZ, to his mother Happy and father Chuck. According to his records, Juan spent the first ten years of his life living with other chimps, and had minimal contact with humans. On November 25, 1985, Juan was sent to the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP). This must have been an incredible shock to Juan. He was suddenly placed in solitary confinement in a tiny cage, and anesthetized at least once per month for blood draws, liver biopsies, and on one occasion, a taste bud biopsy. In 1987, Juan was sent to The Coulston Foundation (TCF); on the journey from NY to NM, Juan broke out of his shipping crate and was loose inside the truck—the most space and freedom he had known in two years. While at TCF, Juan was used as a breeding male, but never fathered any offspring. Additionally, over the next 15 years, Juan was used in at least 5 different biomedical research studies. He began self-mutilating, picking at his own skin until it was raw.
Juan at The Coulston Foundation
On September 16, 2002, Juan’s life took a turn for the better. Save the Chimps, under the direction of the late Dr. Carole Noon, rescued Juan when TCF went bankrupt. Dr. Noon found Juan living alone in “The Dungeon”, depressed and withdrawn, with an enormous patch of red and raw skin covering the back of his thigh. Her heart broke at the sight of this big, handsome chimp imprisoned in such stark conditions. Juan began receiving blankets, fresh produce, toys—and most importantly the comfort and friendship of a chimp family. Often grumpy towards his human caregivers, Juan reveled in the company of other chimps.
Juan and Howard
The raw patch on Juan’s thigh got smaller and smaller, until it disappeared altogether as if it had never existed. On June 30, 2008, Juan moved to Florida—the third and final cross-country trip of his life. He embraced his new life on the island built for him and his family, known as Kiley’s Group. He was often found at the side of his closest friends, Jaybee and Lupe,and they enjoyed roaming the grassy hills together.
In late June 2010, Juan became paralyzed from the waist down over a period of just a few days. He received 24 hour care from his human caregivers, which he accepted with a surprising gentleness and grace. He had regular visits with his chimp family in hopes of keeping up his spirits. But there was no hiding the fact that Juan, a chimp’s chimp who preferred the wide open spaces of his island and the company of his family, was unhappy to be back in a cage with the constant company of humans. An MRI revealed cancer in his spinal cord. With his medical diagnosis offering no hope of recovery, the difficult decision was made by his veterinarians and caregivers to euthanize him. On July 2, 2010, Juan was brought to his building for one last visit with his chimpanzee family. He was then brought outdoors into the Florida sunshine he so loved, and slipped peacefully from this earth.
Rest in peace, Juan. We will never forget you.
Thanks to your generosity Juan lived the last years of his life in the company of
his family under the open blue sky. It is because of you that our work is possible.
Thank you – your compassion makes a difference.
To donate in honor of Juan, please visit our donations page.