Carole Noon, PhD, Founder and President of Save the Chimps, the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary, passed away Saturday, May 2, 2009, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Noon, a passionate and tireless advocate for chimpanzees, created a world-class sanctuary for chimpanzees who were once exploited by laboratories, and the entertainment and pet trade industries.
Carole, a woman of action, was not content to talk about the problem of unwanted chimpanzees, but devoted her life to doing something about it.
Dr. Noon was inspired to help chimpanzees after meeting Dr. Jane Goodall in the early 1980s.
After obtaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Dr. Noon received her Ph.D. in biological anthropology from the University of Florida, specializing in the socialization of captive chimpanzees.
Much of her field work was done at Chimfunshi, a chimpanzee sanctuary in Zambia founded and operated by David and Sheila Siddle. After leaving Zambia, Dr. Noon began to lay the groundwork for developing a chimpanzee sanctuary in the United States.
Dr. Noon founded Save the Chimps in 1997 to provide permanent sanctuary to chimpanzees being abandoned by the United States Air Force.
The Air Force rejected her proposal to care for the chimpanzees and instead gave them to The Coulston Foundation, a biomedical research facility with the worst record for primate care of any lab covered under the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act. Dr. Noon sued the Air Force on behalf of the Coulston chimpanzees.
After a year-long legal struggle, the lawsuit was settled out of court in Dr. Noon’s favor. In 2001, 21 Air Force chimpanzees moved to their new island home at Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce, Florida. The next year, Coulston declared bankruptcy, and a new situation was needed for placement of the Coulston chimps. With generous financial support provided by the Arcus Foundation, 266 chimpanzees were rescued from Coulston. Save the Chimps soon became the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary. Over the next several years, Dr. Noon oversaw the renovations of the dismal Coulston facilities in New Mexico, as well as construction of the “chimp city” at Save the Chimps, where all of the chimpanzees will eventually be relocated. Today, 282 chimpanzees in New Mexico and Florida call Save the Chimps their home.
Carole Noon radiated a spirit, energy and drive that few people on this earth possess. She inspired and mentored those who shared her devotion and dedication to chimps. Those who knew her will always remember her strength, compassion, wisdom, humor and wit. But most of all, we will remember her love for the chimpanzees. She had a special fondness for the senior residents of Save the Chimps, the elderly chimps who had endured so much suffering, but who now greet each day with joy and excitement. Carole took great delight in making Rufus laugh, sitting with Dana for a quiet visit, or listening to Gromek hooting and drumming on his special island. Seeing the chimps roam the islands, free from their cages, made Carole’s heart sing—forever.
Carole Noon changed the lives of both chimpanzees and humans for the better. A dear friend, advocate, and champion has been lost. But the work that she poured her heart and soul into must go on. The greatest tribute to Dr. Carole Noon will be to continue to protect and care for the chimpanzees she so loved, and fulfill her dream of moving all of her beloved chimpanzees from New Mexico to Florida. Help carry on her mission by donating to Save the Chimps in memory of Dr. Noon.