A Sanctuary For Rescued Chimps
Some scientists spend their lifetimes in medical research in order to cure the world's most dangerous diseases. While we regularly celebrate their tireless work that saves thousands of lives around the world, we often forget about the animal subjects essential to this research, many of whom were bred for this role and spent their entire lifetime in lab cages. In 2014, an organization was founded by animal welfare advocates to address at least one aspect of this issue. Project Chimps was born with the mission to end the use of chimpanzees in medical research and to provide lifelong care to former research animals at its 236-acre forested sanctuary in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia.
When using chimpanzees for invasive experiments was ended in 2015, there were over 700 chimps who suddenly needed a new home. "They couldn't stay where they were," explained Executive Director, Ally Crumpacker. "When you talk about hundreds of chimpanzees, a new facility needed to be created and that's how Project Chimps was born."
There are currently 59 chimpanzees living at the Project Chimps sanctuary, but this organization is growing fast. Eventually they expect to house over 200 chimpanzees coming from private research facilities. While most of these animals have spent their entire lives without going outside, at Project Chimps they are free to roam the grounds and climb trees, a totally new experience for them, even though some are over 30 years old. When they first arrive, they have no idea that this new place will be better than the only life they've ever known, so they go through a 30 day monitoring period before being placed in the living space with the other chimps.
The Project Chimps staff are continuously astounded by the different ways they can relate to the chimpanzees, one of our closest genetic relatives. "The facial confirmation that they have, the way they can look you in the eye and connect to your soul, is something that you can't forget once you do it," Ally explained. "You connect with them in such a way that is just unexplainable until you experience it."
The staff at Project Chimps consists of a scientists, caregivers and volunteers. They are supported by a coalition of animal protection organizations with lead funding provided by the Humane Society. Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong and his wife Adrienne are passionate supporters of animal welfare causes and are founding board members of Project Chimps.
Watch and see how the Project Chimps' team has created an innovative and welcoming habitat for these animals who are finally living the life they deserve.
Learn more at: https://projectchimps.org/
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