Toddy was born in Africa approximately in 1974. She was captured in the wild while still an infant and sold to a family in Florida as a pet. When she was only two years old, she had many seizures, and veterinarians discovered she had bullet fragments lodged in her brain. This most likely occurred when she was captured and taken away from her chimpanzee mother in Africa.
As she grew up, she was passed along from pet-owner to a roadside zoo and then to a breeding farm in Miami. While used as a breeder, Toddy had at least four or five infants. One or two were pulled from her and sold. (They would be adults now, but their locations and identities are unknown.) Twins were born to Toddy in 1991, however both died from exposure when they were only a day or two old. Her last infant (a female) was born in 1993, pulled from her, and sent to a private family. However, that last infant came to the Center for Great Apes while still a baby and is our Kenya. It was a heartwarming moment to reunite Toddy with Kenya (who was 5-years-old at the time) even though they didn’t know they were related.
After several years living with a group of chimpanzees at the breeder’s farm, she was separated due to health problems and kept alone in a small cage for four years. Her only companions were her caregiver at the breeder's farm and a stuffed toy gorilla that she carried with her at all times.
Toddy came to the Center’s sanctuary in 1998 and was introduced to three younger chimpanzees (Grub, Kenya, and Noelle). She has a sweet disposition and a close relationship with the others… especially Noelle. She’s been a very good “aunt” to Noelle, and now that Noelle is nearly an adult, she and Toddy still share a special bond. Toddy was very close to Grub and seemed to always want to sit near him. Now her group includes Brooks, Mowgli, her daughter Kenya, and little Noelle.
Toddy moves very slowly and appears to be older than she actually is. However, since her introduction to the large outdoor habitat, she's become considerably more active. She runs and plays with the others and laughs heartily during games of tag. She often climbs the ladder to a 30' high platform and watches the activities going on at the sanctuary.
She spends a good deal of her day preparing and rearranging her nests, which she makes from tree branches, hay, palm fronds, cardboard boxes, etc. Her very favorite toy that she carries everywhere with her day and night is a dog toy called a Wubba. She gets very upset if Mowgli or Noelle take it from her, so we have to have “backup Wubbas” for her at all times! Her favorite foods are mangoes, celery, and collard greens.
Something special happened to Toddy a few years ago. The family in Florida who originally owned her as an infant over 30 years ago, located her at our sanctuary! When she was a baby, she lived with them for six years as a member of their human family, but as nearly always happens when great apes grow too large and strong to be in a house, she was placed somewhere else.
The family lost track of Toddy, but rediscovered her 25 years later in Wauchula. When her original owner visited us for a reunion with Toddy, it was very clear she remembered him after more than two decades. She was very excited, jumped up and down, laughed, and “food-barked” when he asked her if she wanted a “Dairy Queen” (a treat known only to them). He visits her now at the sanctuary, even helping us with sanctuary chores and construction.
Everyone who visits the sanctuary is captivated by dear sweet Toddy.