Skip to main content

River: You were the best! We will miss you!

By 08/25/2020September 30th, 2020News
It is with heavy hearts that Primates Inc. shares the news that our beloved River passed away on July 8th, 2020. He had a heart attack and we are unsure of the cause of the heart attack. The veterinarian said he could tell River was well cared for right until the end. We are still grieving over this sudden loss of River. Thank you for your understanding and support in this time of extreme sorrow at the sanctuary. Batman is also mourning the loss of his friend but staff is helping him through and he is doing great.
River was loved by all <3 Some staff and volunteers wanted to share a few words to honor his memory:
“River was a sweet & silly monkey from day 1 of coming to the sanctuary. I will always remember him with a blanket over his head climbing up to his favorite perch. He loved his buddy Batman & watching them play was entertaining everyday. River will be missed so much!” ~Amber, Primate Caretaker
“River (our sweet sweet boy): A teacher of antics and a role model for how to enjoy what life opportunities have given you. With laboratory life behind him he never looked back. He gave us all, monkeys and humans, an escape into what life should be…fun, silly, and full of wonder. He has left a huge hole in our Primate family but I think he has a plan for us… Knowing him, it’ll involve blankets over heads and dismantling the humans’ handy work. Love you River with all my heart.” ~Claudia, Animal Care Volunteer and Long Time Supporter
“River was a sweet boy, with a kind heart. I know we will all miss his calm nature and presence. Watching him bond with Batman was so heartwarming. I will never forget him playing and cuddling with his blankets and toys as it always made me smile.” ~Nick, Animal Care Volunteer
“I am so glad I met River and cared for him. He was a special monkey with a unique and playful personality. His sudden loss brings profound pain and I will never be the same. I am so thankful I had the experience of meeting this special rhesus monkey. I take comfort knowing there are so many who care about him and that he got to live in an enriching sanctuary, experience the outdoors, and a have a best buddy.” -Amy, Founder
“River will be deeply missed by the staff, volunteers and the other monkeys at Primates Incorporated. I think Batman will miss him the most. They were the best of friends, playing with and grooming each other. It was hard not to smile and laugh watching these two with blankets on their heads and playing in their pool. I’m so glad River had the chance to come to this sanctuary and enjoy the rest of his days. Rest in peace, sweet River.” ~Tina, Animal Care Volunteer and Board Member
“I am very sad to hear about River’s passing. When I started volunteering at Primates Incorporated, River was one of the first monkeys to greet me. I have gotten to care for him over the past two years and I have never stopped being entertained by his antics and personality. River always managed to make me laugh and smile. He was certainly a special guy and I will miss him very much.” ~Maddie, Animal Care Volunteer
“Well, River taught me a very valuable lesson as a rookie animal care volunteer. It was hot and I needed to wipe my face so I took off my face shield and hung it on the doorknob of the kitchen door thinking it was far enough away from the monkeys. Wrong! River had it in a nanosecond and pulled it into his bedroom before I could blink. I learned they watch every little thing we do. I will miss him greatly.” Kim, Animal Care Volunteer and Board Member
“We will all remember River as an intelligent, sweet, mischievous goofball who would dominate challenging enrichment, loved his buddy Batman, and ran around with blankets on his head, often into walls. What we also need to remember is that River will always be with us <3 A few days after we lost River, my 2 year old son was running around with a blanket on his head and ran into the door. He has never done this before, and it brought the biggest smile to my face because I could feel River’s presence! River was fortunate enough to have 2.5 years in sanctuary and loved every moment. To make sense of River’s passing, I can only hope it was his time to give other monkeys the same opportunity.” ~Fallon, Animal Care Manager
“Oh River guy- I have no idea where to begin with how much you have impacted my life and improved the lives of the primates at our sanctuary. To say you made me step up my enrichment game is an understatement- you were so smart, so curious, and so destructive, I never thought I would need to make monkey enrichment chimpanzee proof but when you were intent on destroying something that item didn’t stand a chance. Some of the most rewarding moments of my life was pairing you with your best friend Batman and watching the best enrichment unfold before my eyes- that of true friendship or watching you interact with a new enrichment device I made for you, visually seeing the wheels in your brain turning as your flipped the item from side to side, gauging the most effective way to get at the food reward. I miss watching you run around with a blanket on your head, hearing your food calls, and saying good morning/good night to you. I love you so very much and I am so thankful that I have had the privilege to know such an incredible primate.” ~Hilary, Primatologist
“River was such a great, funny, and smart friend. He always brought a smile to my face and gave me so many genuine laughs – such as when I gave him broccoli for the first time and he chucked it right back at me in disgust or when he would run around with a blanket over his head occasionally crashing into things. His intelligence was remarkable; we loved painting and doing positive reinforcement “games” together. It was an honor to know and befriend River. I will deeply miss him but I will never forget him!” ~Bre, Primate Research Specialist
“I spent the morning looking through pictures and videos of our dear, sweet River. Though he is gone far too soon, I am grateful River’s retirement contained so many peaceful and engaging experiences, and an endless supply of clean blankets he could wear on his head.” ~Liz, Animal Care Volunteer
River up close
River the amazing rhesus monkey
Batman grooming River
River and Romaine

If you knew River and would like to send a tribute, please email it to If you would like to donate in honor of River, please donate through the PayPal link at

or mail to:

Primates Incorporated     PO Box 7384    Madison, WI 53707

Thank you.