Saturday, April 20, 2024

by BIZ Magazine

KEITHVILLE, La – Five years and $20 million in private donations later, Chimp Haven has successfully completed its Welcome Them Home campaign, creating the play corrals, forested habitats and facilities needed to provide sanctuary to more than 300 former research chimps living out their retirement at the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary.

“We are overjoyed to have these amazing new spaces to give chimpanzees retired from biomedical research the best lives possible,” said Rana Smith, Chimp Haven president and CEO. “Watching them explore their new homes, meet new friends and enjoy the freedoms of sanctuary is tremendously rewarding. We are grateful to all our supporters who helped make this a reality.”

The $20 million expansion adds critically needed chimpanzee living spaces, including two new 15,000-square-foot open-air corrals, three new multi-acre forested habitats, and corresponding, climate-controlled bedrooms; dedicated veterinary suites; expanded support facilities; a 5,000-square-foot commissary, prep kitchen, and food storage facility — all essential to the daily care of the hundreds of chimpanzees living at Chimp Haven.  

“Chimp Haven provides the perfect environment for retired chimpanzees to thrive in our natural forested habitats, giving them the opportunity to make friends and experience fulfilling lives,” Smith said. 

Two chimpanzees from federal research facilities arrived at the sanctuary earlier this year and Chimp Haven will welcome 10 chimpanzees from the Wildlife Waystation in Los Angeles as part of an urgent rescue effort in 2022. The Waystation closed unexpectedly in 2019 and the 10 chimps are among the last of more than 480 animals in need of rehoming.

The opportunities for chimps at Chimp Haven is evident when observing chimpanzees exploring the sanctuary’s newest 3-acre habitat, complete with climbing structures, hammocks and other toys designed to encourage exploration.

“Each chimpanzee group reacts differently to a new environment,” Smith said recently after witnessing a group of 14 chimpanzees check out the habitat. “In this cautious group, each chimp took their time to fully investigate their surroundings before jumping in.”

The lush new acreage that allows the chimps to live their lives to the fullest is not the only gift this new habitat provides. It also offers a sweet surprise for some of the sanctuary’s human visitors: a new overlook with an unobstructed view, made possible thanks to the Annenberg Foundation.

“The new Annenberg Pavilion provides phenomenal views of the chimpanzees in a forested habitat that just hasn’t been available until now,” Smith said. “Chimp Haven depends upon the generosity of donors who contribute to the chimpanzees’ care and well-being. Now, when special visitors come to the sanctuary, they can take in the sights from this spectacular vantage point.”

Chimp Haven is a private, nonprofit refuge on 200 acres of forested land in Northwest Louisiana, and home to more than 300 chimps retired from biomedical research. To learn more or to find out how you can visit the sanctuary, visit chimphaven.org. To take a virtual tour, visit chimphaven.org/visit/digital-tour/

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