Remembering Michelle

In Loving Memory - Michelle Ann Herndon

July 15, 1981 - November 8, 2005

Michelle at Jungle Friends

Michelle preparing monkey diets
Preparing monkey diets.

Chi Chi
Michelle's dear friend Chi Chi

Michelle and Harley
Michelle with Harley

Michelle, Erin and Alli with Brandy
Michelle, Erin and Alli with Brandy

Jungle Voices - Michelle Herndon
Michelle Ann Herndon

Michelle Herndon, one of Jungle Friends' first volunteers and recipient of the coveted "Top Banana" award, died on November 8, 2005 - her life taken by a man she befriended and trusted. She was only 24 years old.

Michelle began volunteering at Jungle Friends in 1999, and quickly became one of our most trusted and dedicated monkey caregivers. She was an incredible young woman.

Michelle fully believed that each and every one of us can make a positive change in the world. And that is the standard by which she lived her life. Michelle felt it was her responsibility as a compassionate and able person to help anyone or any animal in need?and she did. She volunteered at numerous animal welfare organizations, sponsored a child in Africa, frequently donated blood, started a recycling program at her work and was an advocate for the homeless. Michelle was a strong force that encouraged and inspired change in a world plagued by pessimism and indifference. There was a natural ease to her, and Michelle's ever-present smile and fun-loving wit could brighten anyone's spirits.

Michelle had an intense desire to learn and to experience all the adventures life had to offer. Her dream was to study gorillas, and she greatly anticipated joining the Peace Corps in Africa after graduating from University of Florida. Michelle wasn't given the chance to live her dream, but she changed more lives than she'll ever know and we will carry on the fight for the animals in her memory.

GizmoMichelle's memory will live on at Jungle Friends. We miss you, Michelle. Chi Chi sends her love! Your spirit now dances free with our beloved Gizmo.

Please visit Michelle's MySpace page at

Dateline NBC video and transcript