Queen Negra

August 24th, 2017 by Elizabeth

Negra spent 30 years in laboratories, being poked and prodded in the name of research. In 1986, during her 13th year in a lab cage, it was suspected that Negra had some kind of contagious disease, so she was placed in isolation – possibly the worst thing you can do to a social animal. Here is the note in her record from that time:

3/31/86 – Dr. ordered animal removed from main colony and placed in isolation for further testing.

It’s unclear why, but it took almost two years for the lab technicians to realize, after extensive testing, that they had isolated Negra for no reason. In 1988 she was returned to her regular cage.

1/14/88 – Enter cage #28 by herself. Home again.

It’s possible that this was the low point in Negra’s life in the lab, but even the “good” days were filled with needles, dart guns, fear, and loneliness. Twenty years after Negra was returned to her “home” cage post-isolation, she finally moved to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest.

You might think that the life Negra experienced in the lab would make for a timid, docile individual. But Negra is anything but docile. We call her “the Queen” of the sanctuary, because she is regal and imperious. When Negra wants something, you’d better not stand in her way. She’s cranky, self-assured, and determined. Negra is strong.

Perhaps equally surprising, given her history, is that Negra has not written off humans. Though she will let you know when you’ve disappointed her, she does not hold grudges. And even though she has every reason to hate and fear our species, she gives out kisses freely.

May we all strive to be Negra.

15 Responses to “Queen Negra”

  1. Monica Best says:

    I love her.

  2. Julie Harwell says:

    I am so happy that now she is truly home. Safe and cared for and appreciated. Negra is wonderful.

  3. Laurie says:

    My favorite, at least for today! She is such a beauty.

  4. Tobin says:

    Like others who know of her past, I once again find myself weeping as I consider the cruel treatment to which Negra was subjected. That she and other chimpanzees were essentially sentenced to life in prison for the crime of being of the species pan Troglodytes aggrieves and enrages me. I hold a special reverence for Negra for surviving her long and unjust captivity, and I hope and pray that someday soon all non-human primates can be rescued from their incarceration in laboratories and other inappropriate environments. I love Negra and her neighbors.

  5. Chris says:

    I know these stories well but they break my heart all over again each time I read them anew. Even the so called “intelligent” drs and lab staff referred to them as animals as if they were just objects in a cage. I can’t even stand to think about all those horrible years they suffered. I’m wondering if any of those people (their captors) ever had any regrets or even felt bad about what they were doing…It would of taken me one day to walk right out of there.
    And yes, it is remarkable that Negra does not hate humans…she has much to show the world about love and forgiveness.

    • Francoise Vulpe says:

      Chris there are some of the lab personnel, not high in the ranks, mind you, that did regret their role in it. Some wrote about it. One higher-up, that I know of, did. Read the book about Fauna Foundation in Quebec. Sorry, title escapes me right now.

      • Kathleen says:

        The book title is “The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A True Story of Resilience and Recovery by Andrew Westoll. It’s a wonderful read!

  6. Jo says:

    May happiness and loving relationships settle on her and remain with her!! She is a true beauty! So grateful to you all for saving her! Hugs and kisses to all….

  7. Kathleen says:

    Like everyone who has responded before me, no matter how many times I hear Negra’s story it still effects me deeply. Catches me off guard and makes me cry. And I too was shocked by the callous way the person chose to dissociate themselves from Negra. I guess you have to be a certain kind of person to call her “animal” as they did. If you had compassion for her, and you saw her as as the beautiful, unique person she is, you wouldn’t be working in a bio-medial lab. All animals deserve compassion but the way they used the word you could tell that “animal” to them meant “object or thing” — like a shoe. This makes my heart ache. And the comment “Home again”? I am speechless. But Negra is home now. CSNW is HOME.

    Negra and the chimps inspire me and I have enormous reverence for them. Yes Elizabeth, may we all strive to be even half the person Queen Negra is.

  8. Sharon says:

    Bless you Negra…you are beautiful….your story is,sad and hard to imagine you were isolated for so long. so happy you except humans loving y ou and caring for you….your eyes are the windows to your soul…wish we all knew what you are thinking. just happy you are free and enjoying life.

  9. lynn says:

    Beautiful tribute Elizabeth – thank you. Neggie is amazing.

  10. Althea says:

    It took me several attempts to read this post in its entitety as tears constantly blurred my eyes and my heart heaved with ache for Negra and her fellow companions. I can’t help but wonder though, if even after being forced into a constant existence of brutal fright and fear, loneliness and sadness, depression and misery, did Neggie even once ever find it in her heart to freely give one of her precious kisses to her captors and not have it returned or acknowledged? And then my heart heaved again with pain that turned to joy because of the hope you gave these amazing chimpanzee people the moment you decided that you would put an end to their savagely cruel situation. Thank you all for giving Negra and her family their lives back. They are truly home now. Love to all.

  11. Elaine Reininger says:

    The REAL animals are those doctors. I too wonder if they had no feelings and could go home and sleep at night after causing such pain. The comment “home again” when she returned to her other cage after being isolated, really ripped my heart out. I wonder if there was ever just ONE doctor who gave them an ounce or microsecond of affection.

  12. Merle says:

    We need to learn a lesson from her!

  13. Pauline says:

    It’s so easy for people to behave like they did to these chimps, but it’s very difficult to understand it now hopefully we are more enlightened and wouldn’t ever repeat this treatment. These chimps must have awful memories of their time in captivity in the laboratory yet they are managing to get on with their lives thank goodness . So glad they have got such a lovely place to live now.