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Getting To Know Them Better

Knuckles arrived at the Center for Great Apes from a California entertainment compound when he was only two years old.  He was affected with cerebral palsy due to a lack of oxygen during his birth.  His challenges were motor and muscle control, a weakness on the left side, and a lazy eye that didn’t allow him to focus on things.

Most two-year-old chimpanzees swing around actively and climb to tall heights, but Knuckles could not climb and barely walked when he arrived.  When he was placed somewhere, he would just sit there until someone moved him.  Although he couldn’t easily feed himself, he would eat if someone fed him.

Early MRI tests and EEG scans suggested that he was not likely to advance much and would stay the same or get worse.  However, Knuckles has made steady progress and our expectations for him are all good.

After years of help from several dedicated volunteers and staff, as well as therapy from occupational and physical therapists who donated their time to help Knuckles, he has learned to feed himself, climb up and down steps, and pull himself up.  He walks wherever he wants to go and is very aware and cognizant of activities around him.  Knuckles likes to play and be tickled, and is very affectionate.

From the time of his arrival, he was introduced to a group of chimpanzees through the mesh while still an infant.  The chimpanzees, especially Grub, Kenya, and Noelle, seemed to know Knuckles was “special” and were very gentle with him.

Several years after Knuckles was moved to the sanctuary from a California trainer, his mother Boma and grandmother Oopsie arrived here too. They did not understand his challenges and were not interested in interacting with Knuckles.  However, in addition to Grub, Kenya, and Noelle, Knuckles did spend a year with little Kodua when she was a juvenile and then more than a year with elderly Toddy before she passed away.  Knuckles close relationship with Toddy was truly exceptional.

Our goal has always been to get Knuckles to the point where he can have the companionship of other chimpanzees.  Now as an adult male (and more than 130 pounds), his physical therapy from staff still continues but is limited.  Knuckles lives in a special needs habitat built to make movement more manageable for him. He still has the opportunity to spend time with another chimpanzee who is still very gentle with him – Kenya, Toddy’s daughter.

Back to Meet the Chimpanzee

Birthday

10/03/1999

Interesting Facts

  • Although there have been other great apes with cerebral palsy, we believe that Knuckles may be the longest lived chimpanzee with that condition
  • Taking on the challenge of raising a severely handicapped chimpanzee had to be carefully considered when we were approached to take Knuckles at the sanctuary.  But, he has continued to exceed most expectations of his potential and abilities and has enriched the lives of not only the chimpanzees he interacts with, but also the staff, volunteers, and visitors who have been inspired by him.

ADOPT AN APE

It costs $22,000 a year to care for one of our apes. By symbolically adopting the ape of your choice for a one-time donation of $300 OR just $25 a month for one year, you are helping ensure the health, safety, and well-being of your orangutan or chimpanzee.

Can't Adopt?

In addition to cash donations, the Center for Great Apes is always in need of food, enrichment items, and supplies. We welcome gifts of all kinds.

Wishlist

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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