Animals forced into the entertainment business don’t choose to perform. They don’t want to be celebs and don’t strive for their 15 minutes of fame. Lisa Marie is no exception. The 9-year-old chimpanzee was born at a notorious breeding facility in Missouri and cruelly removed from her mother shortly after birth.

Lisa Marie monkey

In the wild, chimpanzees have strong family bonds, and even after they grow up into adults, many chimpanzees maintain close relationships with their mothers. Chimpanzee infants are extremely dependent on their mothers and typically nurse until they are 4 or 5 years old. Their mothers teach them important life skills, including how to interact appropriately with other chimpanzees and how to be mothers themselves.

Lisa Marie was undoubtedly traumatized when the breeders ripped her away from her mother at just a little over a month old. They shipped her off to an Elvis impersonator in Chicago, who forced her to travel and perform at schools, parks, and nursing homes to entertain people for profit. When she wasn’t being hauled around for performances, Lisa Marie wore a collar with a padlock on it and was often locked in a cramped cage in her owner’s basement. 

lisa marie chimpanzee  in cage

As more and more concerned people learned about Lisa Marie’s miserable life, word started to spread. In 2009, Lisa Marie Presley—Elvis Presley’s daughter—wrote a letter to the chimpanzee’s owners urging them to release the suffering animal to a reputable sanctuary. They never responded.

But compassionate animal advocates refused to give up, and this past September—thanks to a generous PETA supporter—Lisa Marie the chimpanzee was finally rescued and transferred to the lush, spacious Save the Chimps sanctuary in Florida.

Lisa Marie Chimpanzee Welcome

Despite being painfully thin and weak from years of having few opportunities to exercise, she was excited to explore once she arrived at the sanctuary. She swung along the side of her temporary enclosure and climbed all the way to the top of the fencing, where she gazed out over her new home.

lisa marie cage

A few weeks after Lisa Marie arrived, the experts at the sanctuary determined that it was safe to start introducing her to other chimpanzees, and so far, she has bonded with several new chimpanzee friends. When she met another chimpanzee named Ariel, they instantly became BFFs. Ariel is now teaching Lisa Marie how to live in a group of chimpanzees, an experience that is totally new to her.

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Along with her new friends, Lisa Marie has the freedom to venture onto one of Save the Chimps’ emerald islands, but she isn’t ready to explore there yet. Possibly because the sensitive chimpanzee spent so many years cooped up indoors, the large green space that should feel like home to her may be frightening instead. But for the first time ever, she is now free to make her own choices and won’t be forced to do anything she doesn’t want to do. The vast open spaces, palm trees, climbing structures, and other chimpanzees will be waiting for her once she’s ready to explore even more.

save the chimps sanctuary
Save the Chimps 
We’ll keep you updated on Lisa Marie’s progress. Stay tuned!

Check out video footage of Lisa Marie’s heart-warming rescue: 

What You Can Do

When you see chimpanzee “actors” and other captive wild animals on screen or performing in a show, think about what they experienced before and what they’ll experience after their performance. Never buy tickets to see a performance that uses live animals, and encourage your friends and family not to, either. Share this post to spread the word: Animals are NOT OURS to use for entertainment.

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