Carmen’s age and place of birth are unknown, but she was probably born in 1972, and may have been born in Africa. She arrived at Holloman Air Force Base in February 1975, and was used in biomedical research and breeding in New Mexico for 27 years. She had 8 children, but only 3 survived: Axl, believed to be located at New Iberia Primate Research Center, and Donnie and Maggie, both believed to be at the Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF) on Holloman Air Force Base. Carmen was rescued in 2002 by Save the Chimps. Overweight for much of her life, she struggled with health issues, including a possible stroke. But with the dedicated care of our veterinarians and caregivers, Carmen shed a few pounds, and most importantly recovered well from her stroke.
In 2010, she made the journey to Florida, and set foot on her island home, and much to Carmen’s joy, became one of baby Melody’s foster mothers.
Carmen was very dear to all of us at Save the Chimps.
Two of her caregivers share some special memories of her:
Carmen was my “big mahambajamba”. She was as sweet as they come. If the other chimps teased her, I would always tell them, “big girls need love too!” There was a time we thought maybe she was deaf, because she didn’t always acknowledge us when we called her name. But as she got to know us better, we could call her name and she would saunter in from outside and reach her fingers towards us. She would always give me a smile and nod her head. I missed her when she went to Florida, but I’m happy she got the love from the chimp family that she so deserved. Being with baby Mel I’m sure gave her some of the best moments and memories of her life. Now she is free. Carmen will always hold a very special place with me.
–Beth Bullard, Supervisor, New Mexico
Carmen arrived in Florida this past spring with her best friend, Gail. She was so beautiful
and her eyes could melt your heart. The first day Carmen got to go out on the island with Gail, they couldn’t wait to explore their new beautiful home. They both loved sitting in the sun. Then came the day Carmen met Mel. Carmen adored Mel. She pulled Mel into her arms and gave her the biggest hug. Mel loved her too. You could always find Mel walking beside Carmen on the island with one hand holding on and sitting under the platforms playing. Carmen was and always will be happy with her chimp family. She will be missed so very much by her family and the caregivers who took care of her. We love you, Carmen. I’m so happy that I got a chance to know you.
–Karen Hardison, Supervisor, Florida
Save the Chimps was founded solely to give to the chimps some of the freedom and dignity that has been taken from them in order to use them as research subjects, entertainers, or as pets.
They owe us nothing.
Yet, like Carmen, they give back to us, touch our lives, and fill it with love.
“Turn around but she’s lost in the sun
There was so much to say, but she’s already gone, so
Thank you Carmen, don’t be afraid this is not the end,
So rest your head, I hope someday we will meet again.
–lyrics from “Goodbye Carmen” by Wilson Philips
Thank you for enriching the lives of our beloved chimpanzees. It is your generosity and compassion that makes our work possible.
Click here to donate In Memory of Carmen
Click here to view more photos of Carmen
“Chimpanzees, they are amazing people”
~Dr. Carole Noon