Chimp Haven President and CEO Cathy Willis Spraetz said, “We are thrilled that this great day has finally arrived. Many organizations and individuals have worked tirelessly to ensure these chimpanzees would have a new beginning in a sanctuary environment. Our dreams have finally been realized for these amazing animals.”
The campaign to bring the chimpanzees, ranging from 1 to 50 years of age, from the southern Louisiana laboratory to Chimp Haven began in Nov. 2012 when the National Institutes of Health determined that they be retired. Initially, plans were made to only send 10 to the northwest Louisiana sanctuary and the remainder to a laboratory in Texas.
Spraetz said, “When we learned that all of the chimpanzees would not be retired to Chimp Haven, we felt they were being robbed of what was promised to them in the CHIMP Act, signed into law in 2000 and reauthorized in 2013. It was necessary to devise a plan that would offer a safe and caring atmosphere, one where these chimpanzees can live the rest of their lives in large social groups and determine on their own how they will spend their days. We, along with many others, felt that environment could only be achieved at Chimp Haven and thank NIH for reconsidering the plans for these chimpanzees.”
Immediately, the 200 acre sanctuary launched Road to Chimp Haven, a $5 million campaign that would cover needed construction and care for the incoming chimpanzees. Organizations such as, The New England Antivivisection Society, The Humane Society of the United States, The National Antivivisection Society and The American Antivivisection Society made significant donations. Animal activists Bob Barker and Anita Hirsh, both made $1 million contributions toward construction of the play areas and bedrooms.
Since the start of construction last year, six play areas have been completed which enabled the sanctuary to complete the transitioning phase for the chimpanzees. Currently, several bedrooms and one large open play ground are nearing completion which will allow more room for future growth.
Spraetz said, “Because of the generosity of our donors, we have made great strides for these beautiful animals. However, the public’s help is needed to close the $2 million funding gap that still remains and must be earmarked for their daily care for the remainder of their lives.”
Here’s a little more information about some of the chimps:
- Ned arrived at Chimp Haven in April 2014. Ned expereinced head trauma as an infant causing impaired mobility and cognition. Ned’s global damage to his brain makes social interactions with other chimpanzees very difficult. In spite of his issues, Ned has become a favorite among staff and some chimpanzees in his group. Lovingly refered to as “Nedder” by care staff, he has been introduced to new friends, Monkey, Sassy and Paula, who care for and protect him and have aided him in his transition to retirement. With encouragement, he has begun to figure out life at Chimp Haven and is enjoying his freedom.
- Monkey, a small male, was retired to Chimp Haven in May 2014. Upon arriving to the sanctuary, he seemed slow both mentally and physically. His medical records indicate he had a seizure disorder and during a seizure, sustained an injury that caused severe trauma to his chin and lower lip. After evalation by Chimp Haven’s veterinary team, the decision was made to lower the dosage of his seizure medication. Soon after, staff began to see a change in Monkey. He appears to be a methodical thinker who is very socially adept. The next step will be to consider surgical reconstruction of his lip which will aid in his ability to eat normally.
- Julius, 46, is one of the first chimpanzees released by the New Iberia Research Center. He came to Chimp Haven in January 2013. During his time in the laboratory, Julius fathered 29 children. Many of his offspring now live at Chimp Haven, including Dino, Chicken, Tosha, Danielle, Mackenzie and Kim. Julius has adjusted well to his social group. He recently attained the alpha male role after the death of his predecessor.
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