Save the Chimps mourns the loss of its eldest chimpanzee resident, Marty , who died peacefully of natural causes on Sunday, January 10.  Marty passed away in the company of his best friend, Garfield, and his devoted caregivers.  Marty was approximately 50 years old.  He was captured in Africa as an infant and then sold to Holloman Air Force Base (HAFB) in 1963.  Marty was used by the United States Air Force in flight experiments during the early years of space research.  Not long after his use for flight research, Marty was used in numerous biomedical research studies, including blood studies, drug studies, renal function, venereal disease, and eye refraction.  In the mid-1970s, Marty entered the breeding program, and fathered at least 33 children over two decades.

Legendary NASA heroes Captain Robert Crippen and Captain Scott Carpenter visited Save the Chimps in April 2009 to pay tribute to the Air Force group. Upon hearing of Marty’s passing, Captain Robert Crippen  shared these words –  “I was saddened to learn of the passing of Marty, one of the Air Force chimps that helped pave our way into space. However, I am pleased to know that he spent his waning years at the Save the Chimps facility. It truly is an excellent retirement home for these animals.”

In 2001, Marty was rescued by Save the Chimps along with 20 other Air Force chimps. He moved to Florida and was released with his new chimpanzee family onto a large island with grass and hills. Marty loved his new home and was often spotted basking in the sunshine. His age didn’t deter him from climbing the highest hill on his island and quietly admiring his surroundings.

Marty’s kind and gentle personality quickly captured the heart of Save the Chimps’ late Founder, Dr. Carole Noon, and he was often the first chimpanzee to whom Dr. Noon introduced new employees or supporters. Marty wasn’t too tolerant when the “kids” in his group acted up, but there was no denying that he was a sweet – sometimes moody – old man.  He was entitled.

Marty is survived by his Air Force Chimp family, sons Connor and Mika, and daughters Whoopi, Chandra and Stephanie.


Rest in peace, Marty. You will always have a place in our hearts.


To Donate in Honor of Marty, please click here