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Current Residents Bio


About Rachel

Rachel has soulful eyes filled with forgiveness and longing for human interaction despite her years of abandonment. She has a very strong and solid build but a soft touch when grooming. She is never without her stuffed gorilla “babies.”

Rachel loves interacting with her caregivers. She can spend hours grooming and playing chase with them. She often engages caregivers by throwing objects while lying on her back, things like paper cups. Her lifetime of captivity has plagued her with some stereotypical behaviors. She can often be found shaking her head or over-grooming her nails. It is a unique challenge for caregivers to get her out of this obsessive behavior when it happens, and sometimes there isn’t much they can do but let it ride out. Receptive, responsive, delicate, fragile, available, uncomplicated, sensible and sensitive, Rachel is always loving towards her family.

Rachel spends her time with Maya and Binky. They are patient and kind with her. They also enjoy playing together. You can watch on Youtube (Rachel is on the left).

All in all Rachel is very much a human’s chimp and loves interacting with her caregivers. This has a lot to do with her history, which you will learn below.

Rachel's Bio

Get to know this soulful girl.

November 30, 1982

Roasted veggies, playing with cleaning tools, sipping from the hose, access to outdoors even in less than ideal temperatures, spending quality time with caregivers, inspecting nails and wounds, and grooming.

When doors are closed — especially to outside, and blankets in her bed (she throws them down).

Did You Know?
Rachel and Maya are half-sisters.

Fun Fact!
Rachel loves to clean up after caregivers — she is an excellent squeegee-r and loves playing with leftover cleaning supplies.

Most Likely To...
Be spotted eating her meals slowly, and with a spoon.

Rachel's History

Rachel was born at the infamous Dr. Lemmon’s compound in Norman, Oklahoma. This is the same place where so many chimpanzees we know of today were born. Spock, Maya, Sophie, Tatu, and many, many others were born there. Rachel was just one of the many babies born at that facility where every one of them was stolen from her mothers. Many of them were then placed in homes with some of Dr. Lemmon’s psychiatric patients.

As most of the babies reached a certain age, their personalities changed and they could no longer live in the homes they had grown up in. In Rachel’s case, her adoptive mother gave her up for personal reasons to Laboratory for Experimental and Surgery in Primates at three and a half years old. She, like many other people who gave or sold their chimpanzees to LEMSIP, believed that Rachel would not be harmed. She was told or understood that the Rachel would be given some of the same things they had grown used to over the years and that Rachel would have a chance to be a mother.

Now we know that chimpanzees are not meant to be pets or companions to humans and doing such desperate things can have terrible consequences. Perhaps well-meaning, Rachel’s human mother could not know the real future that laid ahead for her chimpanzee child. And, so sad for Rachel, the promises made were not kept. With no one checking on her to see how she was doing, the lab was able to do whatever they wanted to her.

Rachel was tortured, abused, isolated and tormented by her years in the lab. Rachel really was going crazy and had so many emotional problems. Since she came to Fauna in 1997, Rachel’s life in sanctuary has not always been peaceful. She is tormented inside and cannot escape her past or her fears, but she tries and has succeeded in making a life for herself and for those she loves, including her stuffed baby gorillas that she takes with her everywhere.

These past years have been both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Her abandonment issues, her stress from being locked up after being free for her early years, and having a human mother figure rather than a chimpanzee mom, all have taken their toll on beautiful Rachel. She has been diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) which has extended through adulthood. Because of this, medication is helpful for Rachel’s health and well-being.

Rachel is a social chimpanzee; she needs and loves to be with the others. She has strong bonds to her family group — those she has been at Fauna with since 1997 — and she had a deep and loving relationship with her chosen friend, Toby, before his passing. Toby arrived here in 2002 as a lonely, frightened and very sad guy. His relationship with Rachel was a warm and loving one. Their friendship was strong, solid and satisfying. They complemented each other and shared special moments.

Rachel’s journey has been a hard one but for those of us who see her daily, it is harder and harder to remember her last bad day.

Love Rachel? “Adopt” Her!

You can personally help Rachel by “adopting” her through our Adopt‑a‑Chimp program! By adopting her today, you play an important role in Rachel's ongoing recovery. Chimpanzees in captivity can become bored and restless if their environment does not change. To keep the chimps mentally stimulated, we must continually expand and enhance their enclosures and provide enrichment activities for them to explore. Proceeds from our Adopt‑a‑Chimp program go directly to this very important work.

When you adopt, you’ll receive a digital Adoption Package as a cherished keepsake. Packages include a full-color photo of your chimpanzee, their biography and history, and our latest annual report! You'll also feel really happy that you are providing so much goodness into the life of a captive chimpanzee.

For as little as CDN $60, you can be a VIP in Rachel’s life!

Canada's only chimpanzee sanctuary!

Providing sanctuary for chimpanzees since 1997!