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The United States’ largest animal sanctuary, Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, bid farewell recently to their eldest and most beloved resident, Kitty the chimp, who passed away at the age of 51.

While the sanctuary, run by The Fund for Animals, a Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) affiliate, came to be Kitty’s home for more than a decade and a half, her story began years before when she was captured in the wild at the age of 10 and held captive in a laboratory as a breeding chimp.

Like many chimps in lab settings, Kitty languished, and her true intelligence was never acknowledged. Instead, she was simply thought of as a baby-maker, and was forced to give birth in the name of “science.”

HSUS CEO and executive director, Wayne Pacelle writes that Kitty gave birth to 14 infant chimpanzees over the course of her life, and even a set of twins, which is rare among chimps.

However, Kitty was never able to care for most of her babies, as all but four were immediately taken from her – they were to become a new generation of test subjects.

Unlike many other chimpanzees over the years, Kitty was thankfully retired from the breeding program in 1997, which is when she arrived at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas.

From 1997 onwards, Kitty finally discovered what a life filled with love felt like. She became a matriarchal leader of her sanctuary group that was comprised of her best friends, Lulu and Midge, and became loving caretaker when Lulu suffered from a stroke.

According to Pacelle, “Kitty immediately stepped in and began to care for her by bringing snacks and magazines to her side.”

Lulu returned Kitty’s kindness when she fell ill, becoming Kitty’s “constant [companion] until the end,” Pacelle writes.

While Kitty will be sorely missed by the staff at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch and her sanctuary friends, her kind nature that survived despite what she endured in lab captivity will always be remembered.

With the recently signed Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection Act, facilitating the transfer of nearly all research chimps to sanctuaries, we will surely hear more stories like Kitty’s that demonstrate the amazing ability of these intelligent creatures to recover after a life of cruelty, which will hopefully show the world just how wrong it was to keep them in labs in the first place.

Image source: Diane Miller / the HSUS

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30 comments on “Kitty, The Beloved Ex-Laboratory Chimp Passes Away”

Click to add comment
Mary Durst
4 Years Ago

Sweet soul

Valle Alicia
4 Years Ago

How many years of her life was spent in a lab? Too many. Unnecessary cruelty man imposes on animals every day.

Kathleen Brown
4 Years Ago


Sea Shelle
4 Years Ago

I am so glad she found sanctuary. :o)

Stella Rasmusen
4 Years Ago

Poor people working in the laboratories, wish they were more connected to the nature and life! :(

Geoffrey White
4 Years Ago

God love him

Jennifer Spence
4 Years Ago

RIP sweet angel

Toni Loumos Reeves
4 Years Ago

Rest in peace Kitty !!

Brenda Ormond
4 Years Ago


Autumn Angelica
4 Years Ago


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