Date of Birth: September 21, 1932
Date of Death: February 19, 1992
Gamma is believed to be the longest lived chimpanzee in captivity in a laboratory. She died in Atlanta from natural causes. Gamma was almost 60 years old when she died.
Parents: Bill and Nana
Children: Dag (with Dick), Gamma had 10 other children
Also Known: Gamma was extensively studied, she was a veteran of 35 different research studies, including those on sexual behavior, problem solving abilities, symbolic learning, cooperation, menopause, memory and aging. Fred King, the director of Yerkes in the early 1990s thanked Gamma for her work, "She has significantly enriched our understanding. For this we are most grateful."
When her long time companion, Bula, died at 56 in 1986,caregivers were worried that she might "grieve herself sick" but with extra attention from her human caregivers and a 21 year old male named Columbus, Gamma seemed to adjust well. According to Jimmy Roberts, a care giver who accompanied Gamma and the others on their move from Orange Park to Atlanta in 1965, Gamma was very enthusiastic about sex. Even at 54, she was frisky and to avoid an unwanted pregnancy, Columbus was separated from Gamma. To keep her company, a couple of youngsters named Chrissy and Tank, were introduced.
While she was never given much of a chance to be a good mother since all of her infants were taken away from her, she apparently enjoyed being a nanny. Roberts observed of her interactions with the youngsters, "She plays with them and grooms them...Most of the time just her presence is sufficient to quiet them...Once in awhile she'll swat them...She is a bit moody at times, not sullen. We figure she's entitled."