Innovative Solutions for People        Living With Physical Disabilities

Innovative Solutions for People
       Living With Physical Disabilities


Meet Siggy!

A confident, 6-pound black and white capuchin who beat breast cancer, Siggy has been a friend & companion, a helper, and an educator.


For more than 40 years, Helping Hands Monkey Helpers placed, at no cost, highly trained capuchin monkeys like Siggy with people living with mobility impairments looking for more independence and companionship.

Over the course of September, you will read Siggy’s Story and get to know her as a friend, companion, and (hopefully) an inspiration.

After a lifetime of caring for others, Siggy is now thirty-three and has returned from service to the Monkey Living Center, where we now care for her in her golden years.

Chapter 1: Black & White in a Sea of Brown

Siggy came to The Monkey College in 2004 to start her training to become a service monkey. Right from the beginning, the staff knew she was a special monkey. She was extremely smart and motivated – a real valedictorian of her class! But like many special students, she had her challenges. As the only black and white capuchin in a building full of brown tufted and blond capuchins, the other monkeys would pick on her and bully her for looking and sounding different. But Siggy wasn’t having any of it – she became a very confident monkey who could stand up to her bullies and eventually the other monkeys came to accept her. Then, in 2006, Siggy was placed with her first recipient, Ryan. As a quadriplegic, he needed the help that a smart and confident monkey like Siggy could provide.

Ryan and Siggy were together for 2 years, until he became extremely sick, and was spending more time in hospitals than at home. Ryan and his family made the difficult decision to send Siggy back to Helping Hands, where they knew she would get the love and attention she needed.

Our monkeys, like Siggy, have given so much to so many people over the course of the years. Each and every one deserves the very best life we can provide. We love them so much and are so grateful for everything they have done. It is our duty to make sure they know they are well-loved and appreciated.

Siggy’s Story, Chapter 2: Diagnosed with Breast Cancer, Siggy beats the odds!

As an extremely smart, motivated, and confident monkey, it was not long until a match was made for her a 2nd time. In 2008, Siggy was placed with 32-year-old Jeremiah, who became a quadriplegic after having a stroke. They were beginning to become fast friends and partners when a routine vet visit gave way to a devastating diagnosis – a lump had developed on Siggy’s breast. It was cancer.
The staff at Helping Hands sprang into action, consulting with veterinarians and determining the best course of action. Siggy returned to The Monkey College for treatment and at age 20, she had a mastectomy.
While some might ask why we would go to such lengths for a service monkey, Helping Hands didn’t hesitate. Siggy is a very special monkey, and we owed it to her to do everything we could to give her a healthy and happy life. After her mastectomy, we watched and waited, looking for signs that the cancer was taking hold, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. But, her little body did it – she beat the odds and her cancer went into remission! She bounced back to her feisty, confident self.

As her health was being closely monitored at The Monkey College, Siggy became a star – she was so confident that she was comfortable in front of crowds so she would help teach people about the work of Helping Hands. After several years of health monitoring, it was decided that she was healthy enough to be placed once more. She deserved to be in a loving home with a partner who needed her.

Chapter 3: Great Beginnings

“I had my accident in New Orleans after being discharged from the Navy. Long story short, I was out with some buddies one night and I made some bad decisions. It could happen to anyone. I fell and broke my neck.”

When Helping Hands received Travis’ application for a monkey helper in 2015, we knew that he and Siggy would be a wonderful match. Travis, who lived with his sister and had 2 dogs, was extremely motivated and had a fantastic sense of humor. As confident and smart as Siggy is, we knew she would do great in their household.

When they were introduced, they took to each other immediately. Travis devised ways that he could help with Siggy’s care, and Siggy did things for Travis that amazed him every day. Not only did they become a true team, they became stars! Trillium Studios made a film about them called Great Beginnings. They were featured in Time Magazine and on the Animal Planet show Collar of Duty. Travis even gave a TEDx talk about his life with a helper monkey. They were quite the popular pair.

Then, Travis was hospitalized and needed to stay hospitalized for some time. While it broke his heart, he knew that the best thing to do was to send Siggy back to Helping Hands while he recovered. Thanks to generous donors like you, Helping Hands is always able to provide care, housing, and love when a need like this arises.

Chapter 4: Blake and Siggy at the Monkey Living Center

Siggy traveled back from California for monkey-sitting while Travis recovered from his surgery in the hospital. While he was recuperating, his home living situation changed, making it unlikely that Siggy could return to him. Then, the pandemic swept the globe.

While Helping Hands focused on keeping all our staff, recipients, and monkeys safe and healthy, California outlawed primates in the home, including our specially trained service monkeys. Then the airlines decided that our monkeys were no longer welcome to fly.

Thankfully, Siggy was healthy and already safe back in Boston. She reconnected with the monkey care team and her best monkey friend, Blake, settling into a routine. Siggy and Blake love to do everything together – they wrestle, groom each other, eat their snacks together, and chase each other around. When the new play spaces were completed, you could see the excitement and curiosity that Siggy and Blake had. (If you follow us on Social Media, you can see videos of them playing together.) You would never guess that Siggy is 33 years old (a confirmed senior!) by the way they act at the Monkey Living Center!

Siggy’s Story is just one of the many stories of our post-service monkeys. They have cared for so many for so long, now it is time for us to care for them. We owe it to these amazing little monkeys to give them the best life possible. Our love is given freely to them, but it is because of donors like you that we can provide everything they need in their golden years to have happy, healthy, comfortable lives. You bring joy to their post-service life. You provide them with warm blankets, vet care, snacks, and treats. Thanks to you, they will always know how much they are loved.

Be a part of her story. Make a gift today.
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