Knuckles: Featured Chimpanzee Artist of the Day! #apesthatpaint

Knuckles was born October 3, 1999

Knuckles arrived at the Center for Great Apes from a California entertainment compound when he was only two years old.  He was affected with cerebral palsy due to a lack of oxygen during his birth.  His challenges were motor and muscle control, a weakness on the left side, and a lazy eye that didn’t allow him to focus on things.

Most two-year-old chimpanzees swing around actively and climb to tall heights, but Knuckles could not climb and barely walked when he arrived.  When he was placed somewhere, he would just sit there until someone moved him.  Although he couldn’t easily feed himself, he would eat if someone fed him.

Early MRI tests and EEG scans suggested that he was not likely to advance much and would stay the same or get worse.  However, Knuckles has made steady progress and our expectations for him are all good.

After years of help from several dedicated volunteers and staff… as well as therapy from occupational and physical therapists who donated their time to help Knuckles, he has learned to feed himself, climb up and down steps, and pull himself up on special swings to hang upside down and play.  He walks wherever he wants to go and is very aware and cognizant of activities around him.  Knuckles likes to play and be tickled, and is very affectionate.

From the time of his arrival, he was introduced to Grub’s group through the mesh while still an infant.  Grub, Toddy, Kenya, Brooks, and Noelle seemed to know Knuckles was “special” and were very gentle with him.  He eventually began having play sessions one-on-one inside the habitat with each of these chimpanzees, but Grub was always the most gentle with Knuckles and often spent sitting next to him grooming him.

Our goal has always been to get Knuckles to the point where he can have the companionship of other chimpanzees.  Now an adult male (and more than 130 pounds), his physical therapy from staff still continues but is limited.  Knuckles lives in a special needs habitat built to make movement more manageable for him.

Although there have been other great apes with cerebral palsy, the staff at the Center believe that Knuckles may be the longest lived chimpanzee with that condition.  Taking on the challenge of raising a severely handicapped chimpanzee had to be carefully considered when we were approached to take Knuckles at the sanctuary.  But, he has continued to exceed most expectations of his potential and abilities and has enriched the lives of not only the chimpanzees he interacts with, but also the staff, volunteers, and visitors who have been inspired by him.

Frames USA is hosting a Charity art show featuring the artwork of the apes at the Center for Great Apes.  Due to the success of the opening night, and many requests, we are extending the time that we will be exhibiting the artwork for one more month.  Visit our gallery located at 6822 SW 40th Street, Miami, FL 33155.  We have also made the artwork available online.  Call us for more information:  305-666-3355.  Visit our online store.

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Come to the show and check out the artwork!  Proceeds of the sale of the art pieces go directly to the Center for Great Apes.


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