Tucked away near Summerville –
the place known as “Flowertown, USA” – is a sanctuary dedicated to gibbons (small apes). It’s a jungle-like wonderland that has lifesaving at the core of its mission.

The visionary leader who founded the International Primate Protection League (IPPL) sanctuary, Dr. Shirley McGreal, died on November 20 at her home on the sanctuary grounds. She was 87.

In January 2020, Charleston Animal Society awarded its Elizabeth Bradham Humanitarian Award to McGreal. IPPL opened its doors as the only Gibbon sanctuary in North America in 1977.

These “smallest apes” are rescued from medical labs, zoos and other situations – and brought to safety at IPPL. There are currently more than 30 Gibbons living in safety and solitude on 40 acres, provided by Dr. McGreal. She received several international honors for her work with Gibbons, including the Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II.

Upon receiving Charleston Animal Society’s Humanitarian Reward, McGreal remarked, “I’ve been to Buckingham Palace but being recognized in your own backyard is very special.”

The International Primate Protection League (IPPL) sanctuary is
a secret to many locals. It is situated on over 40 acres of land surrounded by lush woods. Neighbors are lucky enough to hear the songs and great calls of these interesting primates throughout the day, but by night, these primates are kept indoors.

McGreal’s passing was noted around the world, including an obituary in the New York Times. She will be missed by animal advocates everywhere.