It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear friend, Dr. Mel Richardson.
Dr. Mel is and will always be part of the heart and soul of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. He joined the Board of Directors in the spring of 2008, prior to the chimps’ arrival, and was instrumental in developing the philosophy of care that guides us today. He continued to oversee the care of the Cle Elum Seven for the next five and half years with boundless love and unwavering dedication.
During his visits to the sanctuary, Dr. Mel won over the chimpanzees and humans alike with his southern charm. He welcomed phone calls from worried staff at all hours, which he handled with patience and understanding. His calmness and reassurance during uncertain times is something we will always appreciate. And his vast knowledge and decades of experience – from zookeeper to veterinarian to activist – made him one of the most trusted members of the organization.
If his easy smile didn’t immediately win you over, his countless stories surely would. He seemed to have lived multiple lifetimes, soaking up every bit he could, and he never stopped planning for the next adventure or the next opportunity to offer his expert but humble assistance.
Dr. Mel dedicated his life to helping animals, and he was especially committed to seeing formerly abused and neglected captive exotic animals thrive in sanctuaries. Remarkably, the health and happiness of the Cle Elum Seven are but one small part of his amazing legacy. From Rwanda to Cle Elum to Bolivia, he traveled across the globe to help animals in need.
The chimpanzees at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest are fortunate to have an amazing team of veterinarians dedicated to their care, and you can rest assured that they are left in good hands. But we will all feel the void that Dr. Mel has left, as we mourn the loss of a kind, courageous, and compassionate soul.
Thank you, Dr. Mel.