Stories of Chimpanzees

Stories of Chimpanzees


Although his pre-lab history is unclear, Jaybee was castrated, which suggests that he may have been a “pet” or in a circus. Nonetheless, he ended up a research subject at both the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP) and the Coulston Foundation. Because Jaybee was castrated, he could not be used for breeding and was instead continuously made available for research protocols.

When LEMSIP closed in 1997, Jaybee was not among the lucky ones who went to sanctuary. Instead, because of his physical stamina, he was chosen to be sent to Coulston to endure further research, from which he was finally rescued in 2001.

En route to the Coulston laboratory, somehow aware of his fate, Jaybee is said to have expressed a woeful and terrible cry. He pleadingly reached for the hands of a caregiver who described him as “the most terrified chimpanzee, [he] had ever seen.”

Now free from the lab, he spends his life in sanctuary at Save the Chimps in Florida. Jaybee is a smart fellow who understands humans well, which often gives him the upper hand! One of his favorite tricks: stealing the water hoses.

The comforts of home

Jaybee sat alone in his indoor enclosure, with a perfect circle of monkey chow biscuits surrounding him. He was found that way by Dr. Carole Noon when she returned to the Coulston Foundation in New Mexico after all of its chimpanzee research subjects, including Jaybee, were rescued into her sanctuary.

Jaybee picks bright and alive colors Jaybee picks bright and alive colors Photo: © Save the Chimps

Dr. Noon’s understanding of chimpanzee behavior helped her to correctly conclude that Jaybee was trying to make a night nest—a source of comfort and a daily ritual for chimpanzees in the wild. Dr. Noon immediately brought Jaybee all of the scraps of cloth she could find. On that first day of her taking over the Coulston facility, there was little available for her to give him, but he made do, and she recalls he was intensely happy to receive even these scraps.

Today, at Save the Chimps sanctuary, Jaybee is offered his choice of blankets every day. He picks those with the brightest colors. Now, he is surrounded by blankets, friends, open space, and the love of his caregivers, all of which offer Jaybee the comfort that he was deprived of in both of the labs where he had spent hard years. Save the Chimps is a far cry from the barren environment he knew in research.

His sad years in labs were confounded by the fact that Jaybee may have once known comfort (since he may have been raised by humans as a “pet” or a circus entertainer), only to have it all stripped from him in the labs. Typically, chimpanzees who have been raised in a human environment struggle in their newfound captivity, with the lack of comfort, control, or any semblance of safety and ease. Although Jaybee’s pre-lab history is unclear, former employees at Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP) noted that Jaybee had a difficult time adjusting when he arrived at the lab, and was often sullen and angry.

Now, in his permanent sanctuary home, Jaybee has comforts, good food, and caring chimpanzee and human friends. In this safe and loving environment, he is inspired to get comfortable and creative with his blankets. Recently, Jaybee surprised his caregivers when he tore a hole in a blanket. They were confused by his seemingly destructive behavior. He set them straight when he proceeded to put it over his head and wear his “poncho.” It took several days to convince him to give it back and use a new one so his poncho could be washed.


Jaybee’s story is based on information supplied by Save the Chimps.

Jaybee is the face of this releasechimps website.

Jaybee was one of the first chimpanzees who Dr. Capaldo, NEAVS President, met. He was alone in an indoor enclosure, sitting in the middle of his cage underneath a blanket. At that meeting, Dr. Noon shared her story about Jaybee and the imaginary night nest he would make in a circle around himself with lab chow biscuits. She told how she offered him whatever materials she could find that first day she took over the Coulston lab. She shared how utterly delighted he was when she handed him the torn rags and odds and ends she could find for him. Years later, Dr. Jim Mahoney, who had helped rescue and place into sanctuary many chimpanzees from the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates, (LEMSIP), shared another story about Jaybee with Dr. Capaldo. When she asked him what was his most painful memory of a chimpanzee—remembering that he had worked with so many in the lab before quite literally putting his own health at risk to try to get as many as possible to sanctuary once LEMSIP was closing down—he said one of his regrets was of course that he could not save them all. And that Jaybee had had a particularly profound effect on him. Jaybee was likely someone’s “pet” prior to being sent to a lab. He is a castrated male… and that oftent suggests a history in private ownership or entertainment. Jaybee was one of the chimps Dr. Mahoney could not place, as sanctuary space had been exhausted and he had to triage his rescue efforts and save the chimps most needy. The others were sent to Coulston. Jaybee was part of that group. En route, Dr. Mahoney made frequent visits to the back of the transport truck to assure everyone was ok. At the first stop, as he entered the back of the truck where the chimps were held, he said he heard “one of the saddest sounds I had ever heard from a chimpanzee—a sound filled with such fear.” He moved his flashlight toward the cage from which it came. It was Jaybee. As he got closer, Jaybee reached out his hands and held Dr. Mahoney’s, looking straight into his eyes.

Years later, Jaybee was finally rescued. And now, at Save the Chimps, one of his greatest delights is an abundance of soft blankets available to him to make a proper night nest. At last and long overdue, he can surround himself with this simple comfort and joy. NEAVS/Project R&R contributes to Save the Chimps on a committed basis including not just yearly financial support but regular shipments of fleece blankets and other enrichment items. Jaybee’s long hard journey to eventual safety is a poignant and important image of the goal of our work. As such, he is honored by being the chimpanzee whose handsome face and compelling eyes grace our homepage, along with the rotational images of many others, equally deserving of our tribute, from other sanctuaries as well.

Adopt Jaybee

Jaybee is available for adoption at Save the Chimps. Visit to learn more.

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