Knuckles October 3, 1999- November 18, 2021
Knuckles was a true inspiration and one of the sanctuary’s true miracles. Everyone loved him. He thrived in sanctuary care and was a symbol of survival.
Born at a California entertainment facility to a chimpanzee named Boma, it was immediately clear that Knuckles had serious physical challenges. Doctors at the pediatric unit at UCLA diagnosed his condition as cerebral palsy. Due to the severity of the cerebral palsy, he was not expected to live very long. When we were asked to care for Knuckles here, I knew it would be a huge emotional risk to accept him knowing that we may only have a few years with him... but we wanted to give him the best care and as enriched a life as possible during those “few” years.
Knuckles arrived at the Center for Great Apes in 2002 when he was 2 years old. With the devotion, love, and support of the CGA staff and volunteers, he lived to be 22 years old.
When he first arrived at the Center, Knuckles was learning to feed himself, but could not walk yet. Over the years, many physical therapists, occupational therapists, volunteers, and staff worked diligently to help him to learn to walk, feed himself, climb, and even swing on swings. He made continual progress over the years with this devoted help, and he loved his caregivers and therapists.
But the most meaningful relationships were those he had with other chimpanzees. First as an infant and juvenile, he played for years with Grub, Kenya, and Noelle. Grub was exceptionally gentle with him clearly aware of Knuckles’ physical limitations. He also had wonderful playdates with Kodua... and then as he grew, our wonderful elder Toddy was his gentle companion for nearly two years.
Knuckles’ mother Boma, his grandmother Oopsie, his grandfather Charlie, and many other members of his family were moved to the Center for Great Apes in 2005 -- three years after Knuckles arrived.
Knuckles is at peace now... free from his physical limitations. He was the sweetest blessing, and we celebrate his life with gratitude that he was in our lives for so many years.