We sadly bid a final farewell to the oldest chimpanzee residing at the Save the Chimps Sanctuary, beloved Mona.
Mona is believed to have been born in Africa in 1960. She was a resident of the Institute for Primate Studies in Oklahoma where she learned some American Sign Language. In 1982, Mona was sent to the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates in (LEMSIP) in New York State where she was confined to an indoor 5’ x 5’ x 7’ cage suspended above the ground.
In 1996, LEMSIP closed and Mona was sent to a third lab, New Iberia Primate Research Center in Louisiana. In 2000, Mona and her friends Stu, Andrea, and Ursula retired to the Wild Animal Orphanage (WAO) in Texas. WAO went bankrupt in 2011 and Save the Chimps stepped in to rescue Mona and ten other chimpanzees.
Like Linda, another resident who recently passed away, Mona was the leader of a small trio of feisty, older females. Ursula and Andrea followed Mona everywhere and were quick to help if anyone offended her.Mona was a real “hoot” from the time we first met her. She thrived in her new surroundings here at the Sanctuary and she enjoyed meeting other chimpanzees and exploring the beautiful island environment of climbing structures, grass, and trees. She only used sign language on rare occasions, but her favorite word to sign was “hug”.
Mona truly lived her life to the fullest and never missed a beat. She loved the excitement that a family of twenty three chimps brings. If there was a disagreement or a lovefest, Mona and her two best friends were sure to be in the middle of it—though Andrea and Ursula were probably less enthusiastic about getting into the fray. She loved all foods and had a particular fondness for juice. Her love of life was so infectious that staff members would visit her when they needed to be cheered up and Mona always delivered.
Mona showed no signs of slowing down as she climbed into her senior years. She died suddenly in her sleep atop a giant nest of blankets. We miss her smiling face and expressive eyes every single day. The beauty of her being is ever present. When the staff members are asked to talk about her, they will always break into a huge smile as they recall beautiful Mona. Her infectious joy lives on through our remembrance of this very special lady.
It is important to us to honor each chimpanzee who passes away with an individualized tribute. Announcing the loss of one of the residents is not immediate, because it takes us time to mourn and put into words the life, memories, and personalities of each individual.
Learn more about how we honor the passing of beloved residents.