September 16, 2014
Meet Kitty, a Chimpanzee Used in Research
Kitty had a home at an HSUS sanctuary for the rest of her life
Update: Sadly, on December 16, 2013, Kitty passed away at the age of 51. Despite a difficult life before her arrival at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch sanctuary, Kitty was able to spend the final 17 years of her life in peace with her chimpanzee friends.
We believe that Kitty was born in the wild approximately around 1965. She was captured and brought to the United States not long after her birth, but the records of her early life are unclear.
Life as a Breeder
What is known is that Kitty suffered terribly for 25 years at the Coulston Foundation, a now-defunct research laboratory in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where she was used as a "breeder." During that time she gave birth to as many as 14 baby chimpanzees, all of whom were likely later used in harmful experiments.
Kitty was allowed to raise four of her children but the others were taken from her. Given her excellent mothering skills, which were, ironically, the very reason she was used as a breeder, one can imagine how difficult it was for Kitty to endure so many babies being taken from her.
The whereabouts of most of Kitty's children are not known; however, one of her children, Dar es Salaam, was a famous chimpanzee who was raised by humans and used in sign language studies in the 1970s. Dar was living at the Chimpanzee and Human Communications Institute when he died in 2012.
Sent to Sanctuary
In 1997, Kitty was sent to the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, a sanctuary operated by The Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals, to be a companion for Nim Chimpsky, another famous chimpanzee used in sign language studies. A book by Elizabeth Hess about his life titled Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human was published in 2008 and a documentary by Oscar-winning filmmaker James March titled Project Nim was released in 2011.
Shortly after Kitty arrived, she and Nim were joined by two other chimpanzees, Lulu and Midge, who also came from laboratories. Nim died in 2000 of heart complications and Kitty died in 2013. Lulu and Midge continue to enjoy their lives at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch to this day.