Meet some of the special needs chimpanzees:




History of the Special Needs Facility

Special Needs FacilityThe building that today is referred to as “Special Needs” was the very first chimpanzee building completed at Save the Chimps. Dedicated to Vanne Goodall, Dr. Jane Goodall’s mother, it was once known as the Introduction Building. It was built specifically to introduce and socialize the first chimpanzee residents of STC, the Air Force Chimps. Later it was used to quarantine and temporarily house chimpanzees who arrived not long after the Air Force Group was formed. The building was never meant for long-term housing of chimpanzees and did not have an outdoor area.

Special Needs PlayFollowing the rescue of the Coulston laboratory chimpanzees in New Mexico, Save the Chimps began the challenging work of integrating the Coulston chimps into families. It became apparent that some of the chimpanzees would be unable to cope in large social groups. In order to close the former laboratory for good, these chimpanzees were migrated to Florida and moved into the Introduction Building. This area was re-named “Special Needs” and a campaign to raise funds for outdoor yards for these chimps began.

Thanks to our donors’ incredible generosity and compassion, Save the Chimps has completed construction of our Special Needs play yards.

For the chimpanzees who live in the Special Needs Facility, these yards allow them to spend their days climbing, jumping, running through the grass, and basking in the sun, just like the chimpanzees who call the islands home. Not only do our current residents benefit from this expansion, the new yards have increased the capacity of the Save the Chimps, allowing us to rescue additional chimpanzees in need.

  • Construction begins with the pouring of concrete defining the play yards

Which Chimpanzees Have Special Needs?

We are often asked what it means for a chimpanzee to have “special needs.”
At Save the Chimps, any chimpanzee who is temporarily or permanently unable to live in one of our 12 large chimpanzee families is considered to have special needs. Some chimpanzees with special needs have a difficult time getting along with other chimps; others have medical conditions that could be exacerbated by living with large numbers of other chimpanzees.

You might be surprised to learn that we have chimpanzees with special needs all over the sanctuary. Some of these chimps live in the Special Needs Facility, and others “time-share” an island with a larger social group. In a time-sharing situation, chimps with special needs reside in a building connected to an island, separate from the larger social group. The larger group and the smaller special needs group rotate using the island; the smaller group may also have access to an “annex,” small steel enclosures which allow the smaller group outdoor access when the larger group is using the island.

Meet Some of Our Special Needs Chimpanzees

IMG_7110 Abdul Abdul, who lives in the Special Needs Facility, loves the ladies but does not appreciate the company of other males. As a result, he cannot live in a large multi-male group.
Cheetah and Timmy painting Aug 2012 Cheetah and Timmy, who time-share Alice’s Island, spent most of their lives in social isolation. As a result, they find it difficult to get along with other chimpanzees. They enjoy each other’s company, however, and love their daily sojourns onto their island.
ClayCallout Clay, who lives in the Special Needs Facility, is a handsome, fun-loving chimpanzee who unfortunately exhibits aggression towards other chimpanzees. He receives a great deal of attention from our chimpanzee care staff and our volunteers, and enjoys playing chase!
Garrey member of Bobby's family Garrey was a sweet and protective chimpanzee who unfortunately was used for many years in multiple studies where they injected him with unknown substances and took countless blood samples, liver biopsies, and urine samples using urinary catheters. In 2014, Garrey suffered from debilitating disc herniations of his back and had to be separated from his large family for his own safety. Once back on his feet, he still required special care. He lived in the Special Needs Facility with a smaller group of special needs chimps, including Millie who absolutely adored him! Sadly, Garrey passed away in 2018.
Geraldine_3 Geraldine previously lived in a large family group, and her best friend Stella always stood by her side. Sadly, Stella passed away in 2013.  As a result, Geraldine shifted within the hierarchy and became withdrawn. She was moved to a small group of gentle chimps and quickly made friends with Scarlett (who sadly passed away in 2016), Millie, Abdul, Garrey, and Rebel. She has since blossomed in her new friendships.
Iris June 2015 Iris retired from a small zoo where she lived alone. She made friends with Abdul who lives in Special Needs as well as some of the members of Late’s family but was not integrated into the whole group. Special Needs and Late’s building are connected by a series of doors and and a tunnel which gave her the opportunity to sometimes explore Late’s island with her friends. She loved climbing up to the top platforms and posts, catching a view of the entire Sanctuary. Sadly, Iris passed away in 2018.
JR_8069 2 JR retired from a small roadside zoo where he lived alone most of his life. During physical exams we discovered he had an abnormal heart rhythm. In 2014, a cardiac heart monitor was donated and placed under his skin above his heart. With the monitor we were able to diagnose atrial fibrillation and follow his response to treatment. JR’s continued well-being is made possible by living with a small, gentle family group time-sharing an island; he needs a relatively calm environment with as little fighting and displaying as possible in order to keep his heart rate down. We continue to monitor his health and transmit his ECG’s every three months.
Millie Millie, who also lives in the Special Needs Facility, has a history of self-injurious behavior. Though her episodes have vastly decreased since she retired from research, she still occasionally harms herself if highly stressed. Without special care, she has the potential to turn a minor scrape into a large wound that could compromise her health. Thankfully, living with a small, gentle group of friends keeps Millie happy and healthy. She loves spending time outside and lounging with her friends in the Special Needs play yards.
Nigida 150x150 Nigida is lucky to have lived more years in sanctuary than he did in a laboratory. In the past, introductions have been difficult because he struggles to communicate well with other chimpanzees.  He lives with his friend Butch  and we hope to find more compatible companions for Nigida in the future.  He loves visits from the volunteers and care staff and will greet visitors with the most adorable play face.
Rebel (3) Rebel experienced a severe case of flexion and extension of a cervical disk in his neck, also known as severe whiplash. While he retained the use of his legs, he had no use of his arms. He immediately adapted to walking upright and began to show signs of improvement within three weeks. He was moved to the special needs facility and through the use of our tunnel system, rooms, and yards, we were able to safely conduct physical therapy by encouraging him to move throughout his enclosures. Since his initial injury, he has adapted extremely well and has regained complete use of his arms. He has since moved out of the Special Needs play yards and has been reunited with Doug’s Family!

Our Special Needs Chimps Need You!

Our care for Special Needs residents does not stop with the building of the new facility. Your donation today will help to make sure that the care inside this new facility is all that it can be. These residents need ongoing specialized care to overcome their past suffering and enjoy a well-deserved retirement. Donate today »