Noelle was born on December 22, 1994, at LEMSIP, the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates. Immediately after birth, Noelle was pulled away from her mother to be raised by human caretakers in a nursery at the lab. Her closest companion in the laboratory nursery was Ike, and she continued to have a close relationship with him when they were both brought to the Primate Rescue Center in 1996. Being taken from her mother was very traumatic for Noelle and she relied on Ike quite often to comfort and calm her as a youngster.
Today, Noelle is quite comfortable in her sanctuary home along with the seven other chimpanzees in her troop. She is most known for her quirky and unique personality, and her love of some specific enrichment items. Noelle loves to be tickled, and will laugh when caregivers gently poke her in her side or tickle her ears using a long “tickle” stick made from garden hose. She also enjoys swinging up high on the fire hose swings in the outdoor enclosure. She casually lies on the thin hose and will rock herself gracefully back and forth. Noelle also loves paper. She cannot get enough of magazines, newspapers, and books. She usually grabs her breakfast and a magazine before running out of the playroom to eat alone while flipping through the pages. She even tears out certain pages that she especially likes and carries them around with her throughout the day. Noelle is also very fond of boots – hiking and rain boots in particular. She gets so excited to see what boots the caregivers and volunteers are wearing each day, and will even try some on and walk around in them when they are given as enrichment to the chimps (we NEVER train any primates to wear clothing or shoes, but they have the choice to play with shoes, hats and gloves for fun if they want).
Noelle developed diabetes in her late teenage years, which is quite common amongst chimpanzees living in captivity, and is now on daily medication to control her glucose levels. The caregivers monitor her health very closely in order to make sure that despite Noelle’s condition, she continues to live a long and happy life.