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A Little Background...
HAM was held in service by the Air Force until 1963. It was at this time that he was sent to the National Zoological Park in Washington, DC. HAM would prove to be a popular attraction. His celebrity status was remembered, but this didn't help him with the other chimps. Due to his training and his being socialized by humans, HAM couldn't relate to other chimpanzees. On a couple different occasions the zoo attempted to find him a mate, but these attempts proved unsuccessful. In the early 1980's he was transferred to the North Carolina State Zoo. It was here that he was finally able to be joined with chimps in a manner that he could handle. Unfortunately, just as he was making progress, he died 1983 at the age of 27. He had spent less than two years in North Carolina. A debate ensued about what to do with his remains. Among the options, was to have him stuffed and put on display. In the end, the Air Force kept his skeleton for research purposes and the remainder of his body was laid to rest at the front of the New Mexico Museum of Space.
The story of what happened to Enos is a shorter one. After his successful flight, Enos came down with an infection and would die a couple of months after his mission. It is said that his death was in no way caused by his space mission. What became of his remains is a mystery to me.
The story of what happened to the remaining chimp colony at Holloman Air Force base is a bit longer and is discussed in the section titled "Where are they Now?" Their story is the longest and saddest. To give a shortened version; they were passed off from medical research facility to medical research facility and were subjected to a variety of tests. A good number of the descendents of the original colony, as well as some of the original colony members, are still held in such facilities. There are still efforts today to see them retired to sanctuary for the service they performed in the development of American space exploration.
HAM, Enos, and the other chimps were integral in the development of the U.S. space program. The data obtained from their missions was important in making manned space travel a reality. There is still a debate today as to whether the remaining space chimps deserve to be retired. For what they've done, I would say yes. So would a variety of others. Buzz Aldrin put it quite eloquently when he said that the astronauts appreciate "the enormous debt we owe the space chimpanzees. They, and their descendants, have served us in so many ways--initially as substitute humans is space research. Now it is time to repay this debt by giving these veterans the peaceful and permanent retirement they deserve."
Go to the "Where are They Now?" section to learn of the current story
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