Thursday, October 6, 2011


If you remember, DRL introduced you to some of the residents at the Center for Great Apes not too long ago. One of the very special chimpanzees at the center that we highlighted was Grub. We are heartbroken to announce that Grub has passed away after a sudden illness. 
Check out his story at
Memorial for Grub
Losing one of our great ape residents is the hardest and saddest part of our work in providing sanctuary care for them. This week, our hearts are breaking with the loss of our first chimpanzee resident at the Center for Great Apes – our precious Grub.

Grub was the most wonderful chimpanzee and had many fans and friends, both chimp and human. He passed Tuesday after a sudden i...llness that was advanced and terminal. He was 20 years old.

While Grub is not suffering and is out of pain now, our grief comes from a sense of great loss in not having him physically in our lives anymore. But I realize that all the wonderful qualities and intelligence expressed by Grub… along with the joy and sweetness he brought to others… will always be in our thoughts and memories and did not pass away with Grub.

Today, I am remembering the happiest part of Grub’s life and the things that made Grub such a special and dear fellow.

Grub has been in my care since he was 12 weeks old when he arrived at a Miami tourist attraction in 1991 where I was already volunteering to care for infant orangutan Pongo. As I helped to take care of several infant apes there, I became more aware of issues around the retirement of hand-raised apes used in entertainment and also as pets. It was Pongo and Grub (and concern for their future) who provided the impetus to start a sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees coming out of these situations.

It is because of Grub thatover 30 chimpanzees have had a home at our sanctuary over the past 18 years.
Grub’s chimp family for many years was Kenya, Noelle, Toddy, and Mowgli. But, his most amazing relationship was with our young handicapped chimpanzee, Knuckles, who arrived at the Center nearly 10 years ago at age 2. Knuckles had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and had difficulty walking. Grub, Kenya, and Noelle all accepted Knuckles into their group for limited playtimes. Grub was the most gentle with him and seemed to be fully aware of his limitations and specialness.
While Grub was a well-known chimpanzee artist who loved to paint, the most striking activity that most people will remember Grub for was his penchant for mask-making. He learned to make masks when a volunteer made one for him from a paper plate when he was only 3 years old in Miami. But he didn’t want to wear it… he wanted her to put it on. From that one time watching the volunteer tear out eye holes, he began to experiment with paper bags, cereal boxes, wrapping paper… and when he couldn’t find paper in his habitat, he would pick up fallen leaves and make tiny masks from those. His joy seemed to be in presenting these “Grub-masks” to visitors at the Center and watching them wear them. We will miss those special gifts from Grubby.

In mourning the loss of Grub, we also must celebrate his life and continue to provide a home with quality care for the 43 other chimpanzees and orangutans who are here now… in large part because of Grub.
With love and in memory of our dearest Grub,
Center for Great Apes


  1. So sorry to hear about losing Grub! He was a great artist and mask maker! I hope people will make donations to the Center in his name!

  2. Donations can be madein Grub's memory at

  3. It's such a wonderful thing they do at the center! Grub had a wonderful life there from what I can see. God bless all of you who work there to help these special creatures!

  4. RIP Grub. Watch over all your friends at the wonderflul place that gave yu refuge!

  5. Marion, so sorry to hear about this... I know it is a place that is close to your heart. May God bless you and all who work at the center!