Ewok - Bio

Getting To Know Them Better


For 32 years, the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP), a part of New York University’s (NYU) School of Medicine, housed 300 chimpanzees, many of who were subjected to invasive biomedical research in reproduction, blood transfusions, hepatitis B and HIV.

When the LEMSIP lab was closed in the mid-1990s, NYU planned to send the chimpanzees to another biomed research lab (the Coulston Foundation in New Mexico) that had many USDA and welfare violations for the negligent deaths of chimpanzees.   

LEMSIP’s head veterinarian, Dr. James Mahoney and many of his devoted staff worked quietly and quickly to get the youngest of these lab chimps out of biomed research and into sanctuaries before they could be moved to the Coulston lab.  Nearly 90 of the youngest chimps were secretly moved out of the New York lab in 1996 to several sanctuaries around the country. Of those 90, about 50 of the very youngest (infants, juveniles, and adolescents) were sent to the Wildlife Waystation in Los Angeles County where they lived for the next 25 years.   

In 2019, the Wildlife Waystation closed, and hundreds of animals living there – tigers, lions, bears, wolves, monkeys, birds, small mammals, and reptiles – were moved within the year to other facilities. But the remaining chimpanzees had to wait until space was built at four chimpanzee sanctuaries in the U.S.   

Ewok, Josh, Billy, Mystery, Sabina, and Maude were the very youngest babies who were transported from LEMSIP to the Wildlife Waystation in 1996.  Today, in their 20s and 30s, their group was moved to the Center for Great Apes in November 2021 where they stepped out on the grass for the very first time in their lives!   


When Ewok was a tiny infant in the NY lab, he was originally cared for by his mother Mona. However, one day when a lock on her cage broke, Mona was able to lift off the lock and walk down the lab hallway with tiny infant Ewok hanging on her belly. As she went to greet another chimpanzee group in the lab, a chimp there grabbed little Ewok’s tiny foot and bit off three toes! Because of the accident, the vets had to pull Ewok from Mona to treat his foot, so he ended up staying in the baby nursery at the lab… never going back with his mother.

Josh, Ewok, and Sabina were all born at LEMSIP lab in 1987 within two months of each other. They were babies in the nursery together and remain very close friends today. Ewok is also close to Maude and treats her as a little sister.

Ewok is more reserved than the others are and less social… but he still loves to play. He is most often the dominant male in the group, but sometimes Josh will “take charge’.  Ewok likes to get the girls to groom him and also likes to sit and groom the others.

Back to Meet the Chimpanzee


June 1987

Interesting Facts


Caring for one of our apes costs over $27,000 a year. By symbolically adopting the ape of your choice, you are helping ensure your orangutan or chimpanzee's health, safety, and well-being.

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Want to know what we need? We have a list of things we would like to have.

Center for Orangutan and Chimpanzee Conservation, Inc. dba Center for Great Apes is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, FEID 65-0444725.

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