Save the Chimps staff has been in mourning after the recent loss of two of our beloved chimpanzees, Ted and Damien.
Ted, approximately 40 years old, died of sudden heart failure while enjoying the sunshine and breeze on his island, in the company of his chimpanzee family. Born in Africa, Ted was brought to Holloman Air Force Base in 1973, and he spent the next three decades in Alamogordo, NM as a biomedical research subject and breeder male. He fathered 16 children, four of whom are also residents of Save the Chimps. Ted was rescued by Save the Chimps in 2002. He became a surrogate father to two young chimps, Gerro and Spudnut, and joined Rufus’ Group. He moved to Florida in 2006, the same year he was diagnosed with heart disease. Ted thoroughly enjoyed life on his island in Florida, and watched his two young charges grow into adulthood.
This past year, Ted’s eyesight began to fail, and Spudnut and Gerro became his guides if he was unsure about his footing or direction. Surgery to improve Ted’s vision was unfortunately not successful, but with the help of his chimp friends and with the comforting voices of his caregivers to guide him, he continued to enjoy life in Florida to the fullest. In fact, one recent evening Ted was observed sitting in the doorway of his nighthouse, facing the sunset. He waited until the sun had fully set before he came indoors to settle in for the night.
Damien, 17, passed away due to kidney failure that developed after being injured in a dispute days earlier. Damien received round-the-clock care and treatment by our veterinarians and caregivers, and we were all hopeful for his recovery. Sadly, his condition took a turn for the worse and he slipped away quickly but peacefully. We have been grieving the loss of this charming chimpanzee who loved hats (or perhaps it was the people wearing them?), roaming the island, and playing chase.
Damien was born at The Coulston Foundation to mother Annie and father Tarzan. He was taken from his mother after just one day, and raised by humans in the laboratory nursery. He was used in one biomedical research study when he was just four years old, but otherwise appears to have escaped the frequent experimentation so many of the other chimps suffered. When we met Damien in 2002, he was just 8 years old, a “hoodlum” as Dr. Noon affectionately described him and his pals. He became a member of Carlos’ Group and moved to Florida in 2007. He grew into a magnificent adult, and was one of the few chimpanzees at Save the Chimps who spent more of his life in sanctuary than in a research lab.
Ted and Damien, you were beloved members of the Save the Chimps community, and we will always remember you fondly.
It was an honor to have known and loved you.
May you rest in peace.
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal.
Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
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