Pepper was in her forties when she passed away last year at Fauna Sanctuary in Canada. She is one of the many research chimps I’m writing about in my upcoming book SANCTUARY.

(Photo: Kletr via Shutterstock)

    Pepper spent 27 years in various laboratories. The last was the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates in New York. Until it was disbanded in 1997, LEMSIP supplied scientists with primates and primate parts for transplantation and virus research. In its heyday the lab held over 300 chimps and hundreds of monkeys. For fourteen years at LEMSIP Pepper lived in a 5 x 7 x 5-foot cage suspended above the ground with a number tattooed on her chest.

    She was used in hepatitis studies and underwent 36 procedures to cut out pieces of her liver for examination. She was repeatedly infected with HIV as were hundreds of other chimps around the country until scientists finally admitted that chimpanzees are extremely poor models for AIDS research (they test positive for AIDS once infected but virtually never evidence symptoms).

    Pepper’s last years at Fauna were a final respite for all the years of confinement and torture. Hundreds of apes like her remain in laboratories around the country suffering the same brutal treatment. Simply for being born a chimpanzee.

    Colin Mcadam writes about Pepper here.