Lisa Marie Presley was widely known as a singer and songwriter, following in the footsteps of her father Elvis. But she was also a passionate animal advocate, and after the news of her death on Jan. 12, PETA joined the floods of tributes online to specifically celebrate the late icon’s contributions to animal rights. They began with the lesser known story of Lisa Marie saving a chimpanzee by the same name from a horrendous fate of abuse and exploitation.
Back in 2007, a female chimpanzee would be born, not only sharing the same birthday as Elvis (Jan. 8) but sharing the name Lisa Marie. After being torn away from her family by breeders, the young chimp was shipped off to an Elvis impersonator in Chicago, who used her in his shows.
According to PETA’s website, “When she wasn’t being hauled around by a leash and forced to perform for human amusement, [Lisa Marie] was often relegated to a tiny cage in a cramped basement and made to wear a collar with a padlock on it.”
After learning about chimp Lisa Marie’s plight, OG Lisa Marie personally wrote to the chimpanzee’s owners to ask them to free her. Though that plea never got a response, the overall mission was successful—Lisa Marie was freed and taken home to a new family.
And Presley didn’t stop there. Lisa Lange, senior vice president of PETA, shared, “Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, when shelters were in desperate need of foster families, Lisa Marie and her twin daughters set a wonderful example by opening their home and hearts to two dogs. Though the ‘Lights Out’ singer has passed away, her bright vision for animals will continue to inspire all of us at PETA,” she wrote.
Presley’s family made the announcement of her passing only a few hours after she was rushed to the hospital due to a cardiac arrest. She was 54.
Her mother Priscilla Presley wrote in a statement, “It is with a heavy heart that I must share the devastating news that my beautiful daughter Lisa Marie has left us. She was the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known.”
We never know how much time we have on this planet. But time spent trying to make the world a better place for those we share it with is never a waste. Lisa Marie left behind a legacy of great work and great deeds.