I am at Project Chimps today, a sanctuary in Georgia for retired research chimpanzees, visiting with the animals here and their amazing caretakers and staff.
There are 59 chimpanzees on this beautiful, 236-acre forested sanctuary nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and supported by the Humane Society of the United States. This morning I had an opportunity to meet so many of the wonderful residents, each with their own story and personality.
Word spread quickly among the chimps that there was a group of humans visiting, and most of the animals were really excited to see us. They grinned, stared, swung and hung upside-down to get our attention. But one chimp, Chloe, quiet but curious, stood out in style.
Chloe is the youngest chimp in her social group but is wise beyond her years in fashion. After seeing us approach her enclosure, she wrapped herself in a blue shawl and made sure all of us could see her outfit. We all agreed that blue really is her color.
It is thrilling to see how happy Chloe and the other animals are at the sanctuary, after the years that they endured in captivity. Some of these animals have heartbreaking histories, like Kareem, who arrived here in November last year after spending 29 years in various laboratories. Like the other chimpanzees here, he is finally home, and receiving the best care.
The chimpanzees live in four “villas” on the sanctuary grounds, and there is a veterinary hospital here too. Staff members and volunteers conduct careful scientific observations of the chimpanzees to monitor their behavior and use of the enrichment tools offered, and also work to promote the animals’ successful social integration, a core Project Chimps objective.
There’s plenty here to keep the animals occupied, like the six-acre Peachtree Habitat, a lush, forested area with no caging overhead, where the animals can forage, climb and play, exactly like they would in the wild. The animals have plenty of plush toys to play with and carry around – something most of them love to do – and they spend their time eating Icees and oranges and laying in the sun and sleeping. There’s a ball pit to roll in, and other enrichments, including new foods, smells and toys. Caretakers tell me the chimpanzees even have movie nights – with movies featuring other primates, like KoKo the gorilla, being hot favorites.
It’s exactly what retirement should be like.
The HSUS led a decades-long fight to end the use of chimpanzees in laboratory research, and in 2015 we were thrilled when the United States government announced that it would list all chimpanzees as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, effectively ending all invasive chimpanzee research. Helping Project Chimps is part of our commitment to ensure that the animals finally have a place to retire peacefully.
Project Chimps worked with New Iberia Research Center, which houses the largest population of privately-owned chimpanzees in the United States, on an agreement to transfer its entire population of chimpanzees to lifetime sanctuary care. When all the animals from NIRC move in, Project Chimps will house more than 200 chimpanzees.
Future plans for the sanctuary include the addition of three more habitats to provide the space needed to accommodate the remaining chimpanzees. The support of our members, who backed our decades-long effort to secure chimpanzee retirement, is critical to help us achieve this goal. These animals have been through a lot and they deserve a safe, satisfying and permanent home. As we continue to do everything in our power to ensure that they spend the rest of their days in peace at Project Chimps, we hope you will continue to support this important work with the same enthusiasm you always have.
Breaking news: USDA proposes rule to crack down on worst puppy mills and roadside zoos; require veterinary care for dogs
By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson The U.S. Department of Agriculture today proposed a new rule to close a loophole in the law that allows puppy breeders and roadside zoo exhibitors whose licenses have been revoked for severe and multiple Animal Welfare Act violations to . . .
Celebrity PSAs highlight bond with adopted pets; New Ohio law designates a shelter pet as official state pet
Each year, millions of homeless pets enter U.S. shelters and approximately two million dogs and cats are euthanized. This is a huge improvement since the 1970s when it was closer to 15 million, but it’s still too many. That’s why ending pet homelessness is a . . .
Testing on 36 beagles at a Michigan animal testing lab has ended. Following the release of an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States last week, Dow AgroSciences (Corteva AgriScience) today announced that it has ended a one-year pesticide test on the . . .
Finding a home for Buster: How the HSUS works with shelter and rescue partners to help animals after disasters
The Humane Society of the United States steps in swiftly when called upon to help animals in the aftermath of major disasters, natural and man-made. But even in a situation in which we’re working to help transport and rescue hundreds of animals, we never lose . . .
By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson In a major victory for our campaign to protect wild horses and burros, the United States this week reinstated important safeguards that will prevent unscrupulous kill buyers from purchasing large numbers of these iconic American animals and funneling them . . .
By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson In recent years, major professional sports have taken crucial steps to rid themselves of illegal doping in order to create a more level playing field and to protect athletes from the adverse effects of performance-enhancing drugs. But there has . . .
Our dynamic Farm Animal Protection team has been responsible for a seismic shift in how the country’s largest food companies address animal welfare. From Walmart, Safeway and Kroger, to Denny’s, IHOP and Panera Bread, to Smithfield and Perdue, major corporations have worked with us to . . .
HSUS undercover investigation shows beagles being poisoned with pesticides and drugs, killed at animal testing lab
It’s the kind of video no dog lover would ever wish to see, but we are releasing it today because it’s important for you to know just what goes on at laboratories across the United States where dogs are poisoned – and killed – for . . .
As Alabama recovers from a blitz of devastating tornadoes, the Humane Society of the United States is on the ground in Lee and Barbour Counties. Staff responders are coordinating efforts to empty local shelters of unowned, adoptable animals so that these agencies and organizations can . . .
Over the last three decades, 80,000 mountain lions have been killed for trophies, most of them from the western and midwestern United States. This unbridled and ongoing assault, perpetrated by trophy hunters and predator-control agents and enabled by state and federal legislators, doesn’t just hurt . . .
By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson North Atlantic right whales, once decimated by whalers, have continued to face an onslaught of other threats to their survival in recent decades, including entanglement in commercial fishing gear, collision with large ships and climate change. These gentle giants, . . .