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“You did WHAT this summer?” – Ellen Brady-McGaughey

My name is Ellen Brady-McGaughey and I am a senior Wildlife Sciences major. This past summer I was given an opportunity that truly changed my life. When I began my search for a summer internship, I was looking for anything that seemed interesting to me, from wildlife rehabilitation to field work. I stumbled upon a posting for an animal care internship working with chimpanzees in Louisiana and while my only prior experience was working with dogs, I submitted my application materials and hoped for the best.

I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to interview for the position, and ecstatic when I was offered a position as a husbandry intern for 9 weeks over the summer. I eagerly accepted the position and waited for this new adventure to begin.


Fun fact: Chimps throw poop sometimes. Sometimes they miss, and sometimes they don’t. This day was particularly memorable because Kate and I had dodged the first throw and celebrated our cleanliness, only to get hit multiple times after that. While we stunk, we still managed to have fun and laugh about our misfortune. 

Chimp Haven is located in northwest Louisiana, outside of Shreveport. It is home to over 200 chimpanzees, most of whom have been retired from biomedical research. If there is one thing that is readily apparent to anyone that visits Chimp Haven, it is the true love and dedication that the staff has for the chimps that call Chimp Haven home. I was fortunate enough to get to work alongside an amazing care staff team who taught me everything that they could in the short time I was there. They took time out of their day to introduce me to chimps, take me along for training sessions, and generally make sure that I was getting the most out of my internship.

This internship gave me an opportunity to gain experience in a field that I love and hope to pursue a career in following my graduation in May. I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given to work with these amazing chimps and the people who care for them. This experience would not have been possible without the financial support of the William Tyler Ray Scholarship that I received through Warnell. Without the scholarship, I would not have been able to take an unpaid internship for the summer and would not have had this life changing experience. I am immensely grateful to Warnell donors, alumni, faculty, and staff who helped to make this dream a reality, and especially to Chimp Haven for allowing me to be a part of their team this summer.



One of my favorite things to do was paint with the chimps. You put globs of paint on a canvas, give them a paint brush, and they create a masterpiece like this one. A lot of collaboration usually occurs between the chimps to create one painting. This particular painting was done by a member of Keel’s group.


Summer days in Louisiana are hot, and working outside in the heat makes you sweaty, tired, and if you’re not careful, grump. Lunch breaks gave me an opportunity to cool down, dry off, and get to know everyone. Keeping a positive attitude is easy when you are surrounded by fun supportive people like Sarah.




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