An East Texas humane society celebrated a pretty special primate today-- a chimpanzee who has survived decades of being experimented on.
Miss Lulu Belle is celebrating her 55th birthday; a rarity in the world of chimpanzees, as most only live to see 50.
Lulu has been at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch for 20 years, after a grueling life of experimentation.
“She was used in hepatitis, live vaccine trials, [and] she was also used as a breeder chimp,” ranch director Noelle Almrud says.
Lulu endured 114 blood draws, 35 liver biopsies, and 52 tests for tuberculosis.
And after many years of poking and prodding, Lulu was left with diabetes and limited mobility.
“Thankfully laws have recently been passed where they are not testing on chimpanzees any longer, and so all of the chimps in laboratories are now being retired to sanctuaries,” Almrud says.
Almrud says Lulu has taken charge of this sanctuary; she’s become queen of the primates, especially over Midge, her male companion.
Lulu and Midge were both test animals in their past, but their lives seem to be much brighter now.
“She’s earned her retirement, so we’re happy to let her sleep in the sun all day,” Almrud says.
As the longest living chimp to survive a stroke, Lulu's caretakers say she’s a fighter, and is expected to live a long time.