‘Chimp Chats’ event offers rare chance to enter Shreveport area chimpanzee sanctuary


Keithville, Louisiana – Carlee termite fishing with four other chimps from Flora’s group. (National Geographic/Virginia Quinn)

KEITHVILLE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – For the first time in over a year, Chimp Haven, the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary, is opening for an exclusive, ticketed chance to take a look inside the forest.

This fall, the Chimp Chats event will give guests the rare opportunity to get an inside look at the 200-acre forested campus that more than 330 chimpanzees know as home. Beginning Oct. 22-23, visitors will be invited to explore the sanctuary and witness the lush habitats where the chimpanzees, most of whom are retired from biomedical research, now live and play. Chimp-loving guests will gather outdoors for a special presentation from a member of the animal care staff and an exclusive tour of the sanctuary.

Animal sanctuaries are seldomly open to the public. For the safety of the chimpanzees and human visitors, due to COVID-19 precautions, Chimp Haven canceled all public events as of March of 2020. Chimp Haven will begin welcoming visitors back with Chimp Chats, limited to intimate groups of 25 and held outdoors, but offer behind-the-scenes access to chimpanzees and staff.

“We are happy to be able to welcome visitors on-site once again where they will have the chance to witness chimpanzees climbing, playing and exploring the forest, and simply, living ‘The Chimp Life,’ “ said Chimp Haven President and CEO Rana Smith. “Visiting Chimp Haven is truly a unique experience, and we’ve been missing the opportunity to share this amazing place with guests at our special events.“

For the protection of the chimpanzees and staff and visitors, strict COVID-19 safety protocols must be followed to attend. Masks must be worn at all times, regardless of vaccination status. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours before the event also will be required. Tickets are $75 per person and are available to those age 10 and older by visiting chimphaven.org/visit/.

Upcoming Chimp Chat dates include:

  • Friday, Oct. 22, 2 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 23, 10 a.m. to noon
  • Saturday, Nov. 13, 10 a.m. to noon
  • Saturday, Nov. 13, 2 to 4 p.m.

A virtual tour also is available for anyone unable to travel to the sanctuary. To take the virtual tour, visit chimphaven.org/visit/digital-tour/

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