Photo Credit: Save the Chimps
Henrietta the chimp lived out her younger years somewhere in Africa before being captured and sold for breeding and use in biomedical testing. She spent nearly two decades in a tightly confined cage before Save the Chimps gained custody of her allowing her to at least enjoy some of the freedoms that she lost.
The 48-year-old chimp’s life in the labs began in 1985, where she was placed in a breeding program, meeting male after male after male, but never becoming pregnant. Eventually it was discovered that she had endometriosis and abdominal adhesions, which likely prevented her from getting pregnant.
Eventually, as Save the Chimps writes on its website, it was discovered that she had endometriosis and abdominal adhesions, which likely prevented her from getting pregnant. This diagnosis did not prevent her from being assigned to a biomedical research study in 1992 on a drug called clofibrate. Why this drug was being studied in chimps is unknown; the drug had been FDA approved for use in humans years before, but had also been shown in the early 1980s to have dangerous side effects in humans.
While Henrietta was never able to have her own child, just last month, she began taking on a life-like baby doll as if it was her own.
Apparently, Henrietta doesn’t usually pay attention to things like stuffed animals, preferring lots of blankets to make elaborate nests in instead. But among a donation of toys that Save the Chimps received was a “very small human-like stuffed baby doll.” As soon as she spotted this particular toy, she refused to let it out of her sight, cradling it in her arms and doting on it like a mom would do.
Save the Chimps said, “Henrietta’s love for her human-like baby doll came as a bit of a surprise to us, because Henrietta has never had children of her own.”
“She grooms and kisses it, and even appears to try to nurse it,” the organization added. And because the doll doesn’t hang onto Henrietta like a chimp baby would, she tucks the doll between her thigh and belly so that she can carry it with her wherever she goes.
While Henrietta never had the opportunity to have a family of her own, today, between her baby doll and her friends at Save the Chimps, she’s managed to find lots of love.