Carol Noon (1949-2009)

The animal protection community lost a true champion for chimpanzees on May 2, when Dr. Carole Noon passed away at 59 years of age after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Noon was the founder of Save the Chimps, the world’s foremost chimpanzee sanctuary, located in Florida and New Mexico.

Never one to play by the rules, Noon created a haven where chimpanzees—or “people,” as she called them—previously used in invasive experiments were able to form large, multigenerational social groups. Each group has access to its own island with fresh air, real grass and complex climbing and foraging structures.

Most of the chimpanzees were originally owned by the US Air Force, where they were used to test the safety of space travel, and by the Coulston Foundation, a private research facility. Many had been singly housed for years, causing skeptics to suggest that Noon’s model would fail. Instead, the sanctuary thrived, along with more than 300 “people” to whom it gave reprieve.

Noon’s staff and supporters celebrated what would have been her 60th birthday in June.