Chimpanzees are a highly curious animals that we have studied for years to learn more about humanity. We often study their social behavior, anatomy, and genetic code so we can compare these primates to ourselves, which allows us to see accurately how much we have evolved as a species - and see what traits we retained. Surprisingly, chimps are more similar to humans than they are to gorillas even.
Chimpanzees are the closest genetic relative to humans, so these inquisitive creatures are often used as test subjects in research laboratories. These loving creatures have been used as test subjects in the United States since the 1920’s. The chimps have been used as test subjects for HIV, polio, and hepatitis.
Doll and Swing were two female chimps who were used as test subjects at a laboratory where they were working on finding a Hepatitis vaccine. When the vaccine was found, they needed less chimps to test on and Doll and Swing were retired. They were taken away from their mothers as infants and sold to the lab where they would grow up never knowing freedom. They had spent most of their lives in small cages in the lab where they had been tested on. Linda Koebner was a 23 year old graduate student when she was enlisted to help these chimpanzees adjust to retirement.
The Lion Country Safari in Florida was the new home of the retired chimps. On a January morning, a small group of chimps was released into the enclosure that would serve as their new home. At first, they were too afraid of the new open area to leave their travel crates. None of the chimps in that original group had seen sunlight in more than six years at that time. Linda slowly coaxed the chimps out into the new world, and proceeded to work with them for years to help them adjust to life as a free chimp.
Four years after the chimps were retired, Linda moved onto other projects and left the sanctuary. During that time, she helped other chimpanzees adjust to life in sanctuaries, but she never quite forgot the two gentle chimps she had come to love during their time together. Eighteen years passed since she had last seen the chimps when she decided to go back and visit the two darlings. She wondered if they would even remember their former friend.
When Linda arrived at the sanctuary, the chimps did not seem to recall her at first, and seemed almost indifferent to her return. As she boarded the boat to cross onto their island, the chimps began to grow excited and raced to see her as she got off the boat.
Before Linda even disembarked, the two chimps were reaching out to her. At first, they were merely looking her over, then they reached out to embrace the friend they had missed so dearly. The three friends shared one of the most touching reunions you’ll ever see!
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