Sabina website #3

Getting To Know Them Better

SPECIAL BACKGROUND INFO…

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!   

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Sabina, born in the New York LEMSIP research lab only ten days after Josh was born, was raised for four months by her mother Sally who also breastfed Josh because his chimp mother was unable to feed him. At four months of age, Sabina and Josh were not doing well and were taken from Sally to be reared in the lab’s nursery. They were soon joined by infant Ewok, and the three chimpanzees have lived together for over 30 years, still having a strong bond with each other today.

Sabina is also very close to the youngest chimp in the group (ShaSha) and helped care for her after she was born at the Wildlife Waystation in California.

Even though she is shy and reserved, Sabina is the alpha female in the group. She has developed good social skills and can influence the other chimpanzees. She is generous and shares her food… especially with Josh. If she has a banana, she will break it in half and hand half to Josh.

Sabina is the first chimp to greet the caregivers in the morning and makes lots of “breathy pants” (soft greeting noise) pressing her belly to the mesh to be tickled. Her former caregivers in California described her as a “ray of sunshine” who spreads joy.

Back to Meet the Chimpanzee

Birthday

May 1987

Interesting Facts

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