What ever happened to Judy the Chimp?

Our resident expert Ken Lynch provides some answers:

Judy’s television appearances

Judy appears to have featured in a lot of movies and TV shows prior to her part in Daktari.  In particular, she appeared in two movies The Monkey’s Uncle (alongside Cheryl Miller – and including playing the tambourine on stage with The Beach Boys in the opening scene!) and Fluffy, several Flipper episodes, the Clarence The Cross-Eyed Lion film as well as the movie Birds Do It.  She also appeared in quite a few Lost In Space episodes while still filming Daktari.

Addendum: It has come to my attention that Judy in fact, did not play Debbie the Bloop. According to Phil Heaton, Ralph Helfer (Judy’s trainer) posted on his Facebook page on August 8, 2019 that she had not played that role. Be sure and read his comments below for more interesting information on Judy and the chimp who played Debbie.

Judy as Debbie on Lost in Space

Judy as Debbie on Lost in Space

Post Daktari

After Daktari, I am only aware of one TV show in which she appeared – Ivan Tors’ Jambo alongside former Daktari ‘co-star’ Marshall Thompson.  I found this link to a newspaper article from October 1969 that has quite a bit of information about this TV series (which eventually ran from 1969 to 1971) and mentions Judy several times.

This video from Jambo features a preview for next week’s episode and closing theme to the Saturday morning anthology series that ran from 1969 to 1971. The show was a companion series to the prime time series, Daktari. (from YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHnNTNqxYcw)

Apparently, Judy also spent some post-Daktari time at an animal training school.

Ripe old age?

560 daktaritvshow.wordpress.com cheryl miller actress TV guide cover croppedI also found an anonymous entry on the internet that suggests that Judy may have still been alive as late as 1979 (“I also used to care for Judy the Chimp from Daktari when the place in Grand Prairie was called International Wildlife Park in 1979. She was a very good girl. I remember asking her to gather up her orange peels and she would do it without hesitation. She would then bring them to me and hand them through the fence. She mostly stayed inside, and was turning gray.”)

I think the only way to confirm some of this detail, including when and how Judy died, would be to suggest that an enquiry be made to Ralph Helfer via his Facebook page or direct email as he seems to be very responsive to talking about his former pets.  I’m sure he would be happy to provide some comment on Judy’s latter years.

20 comments on “What ever happened to Judy the Chimp?

  1. Thank you for posting this! I think I’ve heard of Judy being in Lost in Space (I didn’t watch that show though) but not of the others ^^

  2. I did watch Lost in Space and I’m amazed I never made that connection. Judy was one busy girl!

  3. Hi,
    I remember in 1973 in a newspaper story that Judy was in a cage or box without air
    and she suffocated.I think it was in France.

  4. I bought the book from Ralph Helfer. The park Africa U.S.A. where Judy, Clarence and roundabout 1500 other animals lived was destroyed by a big flood in 1969. Most animals survived, a few died. Regarding Judy I am not sure, what happened to her. Ralph writes, that Clarence, Judy and some others leaved the cage, where they hide from the flood and than disappeared. Lazer in the book he writes, that some of them appeared again later, but Judy is not named there.

  5. I know personally that Judy spent her later days on the ranch of the Rosaire family owned by Kay Rosaire the famous Lion tamer of “The Big Cat Show” often featured at the Shriners Circus and Judy was in the care of Kay’s sister Pam Rosaire when I visited the ranch at Sarasota, FL this is where sisters and daughters to the legacy of their Father who trained Gentle Ben reside in the iff season months for the circus circuit. Rosaire-Zoppe Chimpanzees 5317 Fruitville Road #175 Sarasota, FL 34232

    • That’s cool, thanks for sharing!

    • OMG! I am so happy to find this. I am 54 years old and when I was a kid, our family drove to Florida. One day we found this little deserted zoo. There were 2 baby elephants chained by one foot each inside an enclosure made of round, big wooden logs. I could squeeze through and pet them. Clarence, the crosseyed lion was in a round fenced in cage. There was a round cage with monkeys in it . Everyone thinks I am making this up because they have bad memories. I am dying to know where this was and hopefully see old photos. It was so weird- no people were there.

  6. It’s not unknown for a chimpanzee to exceed 70 years in captivity (those in the wild seldom make it past 40 for obvious reasons). One of the chimps who played Cheeta in the Tarzan movies lived to be 79, and J. Fred Muggs from the early years of The Today Show is 66. Neither Mr. Helfer nor Ms. Rosaire has answered questions about the status of Judy.

    What’s not as well-known to most is that chimpanzees become hard to deal with as they get older, and few are used after their 6th or 7th year.

  7. Judy playing ‘Debbie the Bloop’ on Lost in Space is not true. They were two different chimps. This was confirmed in an interview on the LISA-Lost in Space Australia Facebook page with Judy’s owner and trainer Ralph Helfer. This occurred on 08/08/2019.

    • Thanks for that clarification. I am really glad she didn’t play Debbie – between the two shows Judy would have been working night and day!

      • Yes indeed. Just about everybody’s filmography on the internet wrongly combines both Judy’s and Debbies’ work! After Debbie finished Lancelot Link – she went on tour promoting the show. When that finished, the promoter purchased both she and ‘Tongo’ who played Lance from trainer Frank (Benji) Inn. She supposedly retired to San Diago Zoo – passing away in her thirties circa 1998. Judy’s latter role included playing ‘Daggit’ the robot dog in ‘Battlestar Galactica’. She eventually retired and passed away having been buried in Ralph Helfer’s compound at Africa USA.

      • Thank you for all that, very interesting. How poetic that Judy was buried at the former Africa USA.

  8. In the opening scene of The Monkey’s Uncle, that appears to be a popular actress named Annette Funicello playing tambourine, not our Judy. Can we confirm Judy was in the film?

  9. I personally had the opportunity to know Judy in the late 90’s . She was old but alive and well at Sarasota Florida on the ranch of Kay Rosaire (lion tamer) and in the care of her sister Pam Rosaire who trained chimpanzees for the black circus act. I know that over decades demonize stories have been told about the rose their family and their treatment of their animals. For 10 generations that family has trained and loved show animals one of the sisters even married a veterinarian who is on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week an emergencies moment notice. Judy was quite the character and they also had a MailChimp named George would like to still cigars and beer. re: vpm

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