We are so very sad to announce that strong and resilient Tonya long-tailed macaque passed away January 31. Tonya went peacefully and had the comfort of her best friend Toby right by her side.
Tonya arrived at the PRC in November 1997, after spending the first eight years of her life at the New York University Medical Center’s Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP). LEMSIP records reveal that from 1989 to 1997, Tonya was a research subject for iron toxicity experiments and was sedated over 75 times, with an especially difficult year in 1993 when she was sedated 33 times and endured 8 liver biopsies over the course of that year. We can only imagine the effects these invasive procedures had on her daily life.
Fortunately, Tonya was retired to the Primate Rescue Center where she could finally live a peaceful, quiet life. But, the years and procedures Tonya experienced in the lab affected her overall health as she aged. Tonya’s teeth had to be humanely removed by our veterinarian several years ago due to inflammation and infection. But, she never let that slow her down. Tonya healed perfectly from her surgery and was able to eat just about anything she could pop in her mouth.
Tonya also developed diabetes later in life–likely related to the long-term damage to her organs as a result of the experimentation she endured in the laboratory. Despite our best efforts to treat her diabetes with medications and diet, this disease took its toll on Tonya’s body over time. She was 30 years old when she died of complications related to diabetes. She was the oldest macaque to ever live at the Primate Rescue Center.
Tonya made many friends over the 22 years she lived at the sanctuary, with one in particular who would turn out to be her best friend until the very end. Toby and Tonya were inseparable companions. They loved to sit near each other, they shared their food, they groomed often, and they literally slept with their arms wrapped around each other. They truly seemed to love each other dearly.