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Noelle was born on December 22, 1994, at a biomedical research laboratory in New York, where she was raised by human caretakers. The black “mask” around her eyes made her easily distinguishable from the other light-faced juveniles. And her naughty, sneaky, unpredictable nature made some refer to her as a “bandit.”
As Noelle has aged, her “mask” has faded and blended, but she remains the most notorious, and certainly quirkiest, of the group. For years she has tried to snatch, grab, and poke every caretaker. At breakfast she races in and collects armloads of produce, then rushes off to eat alone. She follows the other chimps around at mealtimes so she can snatch up their leftovers. From her earliest days, Noelle displayed obvious intelligence. For example, PRC caretakers teach the chimps to help clean their night rooms: in exchange for a piece of bedding pushed out to the floor, a chimp receives a Tic Tac. Noelle quickly learned to tear one large piece of bedding into smaller pieces, then hand them over individually in hopes of earning multiple rewards. She’s always been eccentric, as well: she loves to watch movies, and will pound the glass window of her enclosure when she sees people or animals onscreen she doesn’t like. And like Jenny and Martina, Noelle loves shoes. (She even likes to flip through shoe catalogues!) When the caretakers offer her old shoes to play with, she sometimes tries to fit them on her feet and walk around.
Noelle’s closest companion is Ike, whom she spent much time with at LEMSIP. Although she’s something of a loner, Noelle also has a budding friendship with Jenny. She particularly enjoys time in the chimps’ spacious outdoor enclosure, where she watches the world from a high perch while basking in the sun.
|Size||4 to 5.5 feet, 70 to 130 pounds|
|Average Lifespan||35-40 years in the wild
50-60 years in captivity
|Notable Features||Long, powerful arms for climbing in trees; on the ground, they walk upright or on all fours, using their knuckles for support|
|Diet||Omnivore, but partial to fruit|
Chimpanzees are humans' closest living relatives, sharing an estimated 94 percent of our DNA. In the wild, these empathetic and intelligent mammals live in large social groups called communities. Because of habitat loss, hunting, and poaching of babies for the pet trade, chimps are classified as endangered.