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October 24, 2012

Meet Kitty, a Chimpanzee Used in Research

Kitty now calls an HSUS sanctuary home

  • chimp kitty

    Kitty was kept in a laboratory for most of her life and used to breed baby chimpanzees who were likely later used in harmful experiments. HSUS

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    Kitty has excellent mothering skills but was only allowed to raise four of her fourteen babies. HSUS

  • chimp kitty

    Kitty now lives at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Texas with two chimpanzee companions. HSUS

We believe that Kitty was born in the wild approximately 49 years ago, where she was captured and brought to the United States, 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.

While the whereabouts of most of Kitty's children are not known, one of her children, Dar es Salaam, is a famous chimpanzee who was raised by humans and used in sign language studies in the 1970s. Dar now lives at the Chimpanzee and Human Communications Institute.

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.

Kitty and Nim were joined by two other chimpanzees from laboratories shortly after Kitty arrived. Sadly, Nim died in 2000 of heart complications. However, Kitty and her two other companions, Lulu and Midge, continue to enjoy their lives in the sanctuary to this day.

 View all "Meet the Chimps" profiles »

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