Retired Lab Chimps Experience New Life At Project Chimps Sanctuary

First Posted: Sep 12, 2016 04:50 AM EDT

A Georgia Sanctuary for chimps, called Project Chimps, have recently welcomed a group of nine retired lab chimpanzees into their new home. All nine chimpanzees are female and will be housed in the 236-acre facility located near Blue Ridge, Georgia. Buttercup, Charisse, Emma, Genesis, Gracie, Jennifer, Latricia and Samira were all visibly excited to enter the premises on Thursday. They previously served at University of Louisiana's New Iberia Research Center. The sanctuary already is housing 211 such chimps and have maintained that these chimps have been housed by other facilities but never been used for research, in a report from Huffington Post.

After the 600-mile journey to their new home, the chimps were happy to be reunited in the special "party porch" area of the sanctuary where they hugged, kissed and groomed each other in celebration. The chimps will be able to access a special forested outdoor space and live in social groups and will also get to play with a variety of toys and puzzles.

The partnership between the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Project Chimps promises to relocate more than 200 retired chimpanzees, making this the first time that a non-federal program has been devoted to release the entirety of its research chimps.

Project Chimps is highly active on social media and has received support in its endeavours by celebrities like Billy Joe Armstrong, Kat Von Dee, Rachael Ray and many others. It was during June 2015 that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had classified captive chimpanzees as "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act, according to a report by Mashable.

Baeckler Davis, who is a primatologist and was the executive director of North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance before she founded Project Chimps said that some chimps take time to get comfortable in a new habitat, while others get comfortable right away. She also adds that it's all about building trust between the caregivers and the residents of Project Chimps.

Davis is also confident that this project will inspire more people to take stricter action against using animals for research. The Georgia site is going to be the largest chimp sanctuary in the world and in order to continue maintaining it, Davis said that they will need a dedicated and excited team of supporters.

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