Helen arrived at IPPL in April of 1982. Originally she was intended to be a companion for Arun Rangsi but, when John McGreal went to pick her up at the now-defunct Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates in New York, there was a boy gibbon named Peppy in the next cage who was clearly upset. We would not buy happiness for Helen at the cost of causing suffering to Peppy, and literally begged the people at the lab to let him come to Summerville with Helen.
Helen was just two years old; Peppy was three. They were both fortunate to have escaped life in a research lab at such a young age and they remained together for the next 35 years.
Helen could be a bit feisty – or perhaps just picky. She would throw food back at her caregivers after taking a bite if the fruit was not absolutely to her taste. Although she usually preferred veggies, she loved blueberries off the bushes near her cage. They produce only a handful or two when in season – and Helen thought they should all be hers!
Helen had not shown any signs of anything wrong until March 23, 2017 when she didn’t eat her banana. The next morning we contacted our vet Dr. John Ohlandt and he came rushing over. By that time, Helen was sitting in the front of her cage and we were able to hand-carry her into the Animal Care Cottage. All the IPPL animal care team rushed over. There, she died naturally and quietly. Dr. Ohlandt performed an autopsy and found out that Helen had severe stomach cancer. Nothing could have been done to save her. We will all miss this lovely girl who was part of our gibbon family for so many years.