Igor, 58, a male gibbon who had resided at the International Primate Protection League sanctuary in Summerville, South Carolina since 1987, was euthanized on October 13, 2014, three days after suffering a stroke that left his right side paralyzed and not responding to treatment.
“Igor could not swing or climb,” IPPL founder Shirley McGreal told ANIMALS 24-7. “Sadly we decided unanimously to release him from this life and hope he’ll go to a place where he can swing and sing with Beanie,” a blind gibbon who lived at IPPL from 1991 until his death in 2004, “and other departed gibbons.
“All our animal care team came out this morning to say their goodbyes,” McGreal continued. “Igor let everyone groom and stroke him for hours. He even reconciled with Hardy, with whom he got angry when Hardy once went to catch him for a vet check. I gor never forgave Hardy. Till today.”
Igor & Jan Moor-Jankowski
Igor came to IPPL from the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates in Sterling Forest, New York, founded in 1965 by former Polish resistance fighter Jan-Moor Jankowski (1924-2005).
Operating under the auspices of New York University, LEMSIP for the next 30 years was widely seen as the standard setter in humane treatment of laboratory primates. But Moor-Jankowski was dismissed by NYU on August 9, 1995, one day after the USDA told university officials that Jankowski had reported violations of the Animal Welfare Act at another of its labs.
Moor-Jankowski ensured before leaving that all of the LEMSIP primates were retired to the Primarily Primates and Wildlife Waystation sanctuaries, but Igor had already been retired to IPPL eight years earlier, through Moor-Jankowski’s acquaintance with McGreal, beginning in his capacity as founding editor of the International Journal of Primatology. In 1983 the International Journal of Primatology published a letter-to-the-editor from McGreal, who criticized the Austrian pharmaceutical firm Immuno AG for planning to capture wild chimpanzees. Immuno AG responded by suing both McGreal and Moor-Jankowski for libel.
McGreal’s home insurer settled the case against her out of court, against her opposition, but Moor-Jankowski spent $2 million of his own money to win two rulings by the New York State Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, which together won greater protection for authors and publishers of letters to the editor of publications.
Igor at IPPL
Igor, recalled McGreal, reached LEMSIP “from a pharmaceutical company’s lab in the Northeast.” Arriving at IPPL with open wounds, “Igor had developed a habit of aggressively self-mutilating when he saw another gibbon, so we built special housing for him in a remote area of the property. We do not know how this habit originated,” McGreal said. “In his 27 years with IPPL, Igor never self-mutilated again. In fact he was always very friendly. He loved attention, and got lots of it, and had his own TV. He enjoyed Sesame Street, Barney, Animal Planet, the Discovery Channel, and a country music station. Among his favorite foods were apples and sweet potatoes. Among his favorite activities were watching the birds and other wildlife in the woods behind his house.”