Save the Chimps, the leading non-profit organization dedicated to providing permanent sanctuary for the lifelong care of rescued chimpanzees, today announced Michelle “Shelly” Lakly as Executive Director of the organization, effective September 3, 2019.
In this role, Lakly will invigorate the staff, board, and community to support a renewed vision for Save the Chimps, provide a hands-on approach to fundraising and growth, maintain and expand existing programs to the highest standards, and communicate effectively with the various stakeholders.
Prior to joining Save the Chimps, Lakly worked for The Nature Conservancy, most recently as Managing Director, Saving Great Rivers Program. Prior to that she served as Eastern Division Executive Director, Executive Director, Florida, and Executive Director, Georgia. Before that, Lakly held a variety of roles at Zoo Atlanta, including Vice President of Education and Conservation Programs, Director, Academy for Conservation Training, and Director of Education.
“Shelly is an experienced conservation executive with a stellar track record of accomplishment in fundraising and team building,” said Jon Stryker, Board Chair of Save the Chimps. “As both a strategic leader and trained scientist, she has the ability to inspire and invigorate those around her into action.”
“I am thrilled to be joining an organization with such a rich and successful history of animal welfare,” said Lakly. “Their vital programs have made such an important difference and I can’t wait to join the team and build upon that amazing work.”
Lakly holds a Doctor of Philosophy, Ecology, a Master of Science, Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development, and a Bachelor of Science, all from the University of Georgia, Institute of Ecology-Athens. Her accolades include a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Award and a U.S. Department of the Interiors Partners in Conservation Award.
About Save the Chimps:
Founded in 1997, Save the Chimps is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing permanent sanctuary for the lifelong care of chimpanzees rescued from research laboratories and retired from the entertainment industry and the pet trade. Every day the staff and volunteers of Save the Chimps provide daily care to over 240 chimpanzee residents spread out over 12 islands on 150 acres. For more information, visit www.savethechimps.org.
You made National Banana Lovers Day the best one yet!!
Thank you to everyone who donated toward our goal of raising funds for a month’s supply of bananas- that’s over 22,000 bananas! As a thank you for your incredible support please enjoy the photos above of our residents eating bananas. Your support toward the banana fund not only gives our residents important nutrition, it also brings joy and excitement to their day. Chimpanzees have a unique vocalization called a food grunt in response to food that they are excited about. When the cart of bananas is rolled in at mealtime, a wave of enthusiastic food grunts can he heard throughout the sanctuary!
“Forgiveness is an attribute of the Strong.” Mahatma Gandhi
David, one of the most beloved chimpanzee at Save the Chimps, passed away from heart failure after many years of treatment. He was an incredible being and will be sorely missed by his chimp and human families. We generally write our tributes describing who the chimpanzee has become once they are given the opportunity to live a more fulfilling life at Save the Chimps. But for dear David, we wanted to show the true meaning of forgiveness by sharing his life story with you.
David was born in Africa. If he had been allowed to stayed there, his mother would have lovingly cared for and fiercely protected her young son. David would have nursed for 5 years. He would have ridden on his mom’s back while foraging for food, for, teaching him what to eat and what to avoid. These early childhood experiences would have shaped his social skills, personality, survival ability, and character. David would have spent his whole life in his natal territory surrounded by a large family and eventually fathered children himself.
But David never got to experience that life. Instead, he was snatched from the forests of Africa and brought to the United States for biomedical research. Although we have no information of his early years, David ended up at a laboratory called LEMSIP located in upstate New York. Here, the chimps were singly housed in cages suspended from the walls. The fetid feces and urine that piled beneath the cages caused a horrible, caustic odor. There was no outside access, nesting material, fresh food or enrichment. For over 10 years, David languished in this small space. Weekly he was sedated with ketamine, which stings when given in the muscle. He would probably sit in anticipation of the pain and distress because his food would be withheld while the other chimps ate around him. The records reflect that for ten years he was injected weekly, had multiple substances introduced into his body and was subjected to constant blood work and liver biopsies.
When LEMSIP finally closed, David and other chimps were sold to the Coulston Foundation in New Mexico, a laboratory with one of the worst animal welfare violations records in history. He spent 4 years living in isolation in building 300, a dark, dank structure referred to as “the dungeon” by Dr. Noon. The chimps were housed alone in cement cells with no outside light, no ability to see their neighbors and no stimulation. And in one of those enclosures sat dear, sweet David.
David was kind, handsome and lovable, though never subservient, from the moment we met him. He garnered respect from every chimp and caregiver who was lucky enough to know him. He had piercing brown eyes that stared directly at you, communicating his intelligence and exposing his soul and forced you to open yours. He was a chimp among chimps; kind, smart and dignified. He formed a strong bond with everyone in his family, but particularly Pele, who remained close by for the rest of his life. Although he was diagnosed with heart disease in 2006, he lived an active and enriching life. David’s family made the move to Florida in May, 2009 and soon after, the doors to the island and his new life opened. David remained a gentleman until the day he died.
Now that is forgiveness………
Join us in remembering him.
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.
My name is Larry and I would like to share a story with a happy ending with you on this Giving Day for Apes. It’s people like you who make happy endings possible at Save the Chimps.
My story is not unlike that of many of the more than 800 chimps still awaiting retirement from research laboratories, entertainment, and the pet trade.
I spent the first years of my life at a popular attraction. When I was nine, I was sent to the Coulston Foundation—a biomedical research laboratory with the worst record of any lab in the history of the Animal Welfare Act—where I lived in isolation for a decade in a building known as the Dungeon.
At the age of 19, I was rescued by Save the Chimps. This is the happy ending part. I now live in a chimpanzee family on an a three-acre island at the beautiful Sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida.
You can help bring more chimps just like me home to sanctuary! We are provided lifelong exemplary care, so a new island needs to be built to receive those in imminent need.