I was born at the Coulston Foundation in New Mexico on March 5, 1992, the daughter of Yolanda and Emory, two of Dr. Noon’s favorite chimpanzees. At birth, I was taken from my mother, given the number 1541, and sent to the laboratory “nursery.” Even as an infant, blood was taken from me monthly. One morning when I was six months old, the staff found me with my foot swollen and stuck between the bars of my cage. I also suffered from severe diaper rash.
When I was one year old, I was tattooed and shipped to another lab, along with a note that read: “Paired with Theo. Millie likes to hold Theo most of the time. Theo sometimes tires of being held and will bite Millie to get her off of him. Millie will act more at ease if given a towel to hold.”
So began my traumatic life in research. I was used in a number of upper respiratory studies where I was inoculated with viruses in my nose. I was also used in hepatitis studies, and endured an untold number of painful liver biopsies. These experiences were very, very hard on me. I screamed and hit myself a lot, but they kept giving me injections and moving me away from my friends. I was a mess. I was rocking, screaming and intensely nervous. When my roommate died in 2000, I got very depressed and stopped eating. By 2001, I had lesions on my feet, upper lip, and chest. My skin was dry and itchy from what was thought to be a skin rash.
When I was rescued by Save the Chimps in 2002, they realized that my “rashes” were actually caused by my self-mutilation from so many years of trauma and stress. They started me on anti-anxiety medication, which has helped tremendously. I’m very sensitive and have a lot of idiosyncrasies. Whenever they tried to wean me from my medications, I started picking at myself and getting nervous, so they have kept me on a low dose to help me cope with my past scars.
I’ve become much more confident and outgoing since I’ve been living in a small family group in the special needs play yards. My caregivers accept my quirks with tenderness and deep affection, and I love how they spoil me.
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