Chimp Haven was founded in 1995 in order to respond to the need for long term chimpanzee care. The need for care extended to those chimpanzees no longer used in biomedical research, the entertainment industry or the pet trade.
Genetically, chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than any other species. Because of their physiological and behavioral similarities, chimpanzees have been an attractive animal model for many researchers. In the 1980s the U.S. government launched an intensive breeding program. The resulting offspring were the intended research subjects for hepatitis and HIV studies; however, with new research models and developing technologies, the use of chimpanzees in human disease research declined in the 1990s.
In 2000, the CHIMP Act (Chimpanzee Health Improvement Maintenance Protection Act) was signed into law, establishing the Federal Sanctuary System. In that same year, The Parish of Caddo, Louisiana provided 200 acres of forested land, nestled in the Eddie D. Jones Nature Park, in which to build the sanctuary. Chimp Haven was awarded the federal contract to create a sanctuary where its residents could live in large social groups in spacious, outdoor habitats and where they could live out their lives in a setting that afforded them greater freedoms and self-determination.
In 2005, the first two chimpanzee residents, Rita and Teresa, came to live at Chimp Haven. In 2007, the Chimp Haven is Home Act was passed. This law closed a loophole in the CHIMP Act and prohibited chimpanzees retired from biomedical research to be returned to laboratories.
In a landmark decision on June 22, 2013, the National Institutes of Health announced that all but 50 federally owned chimpanzees were officially retired, paving the way for more than 300 additional chimpanzees to make their way to Chimp Haven in the future.
Currently there are nearly 70 employees who are responsible for the overall care of the chimpanzees. The organization includes administrative support; husbandry and veterinary care; chimpanzee behavior, observational research and enrichment; education and facilities and grounds maintenance.
Since our inception, we have cared for more than 400 chimpanzees and are currently home to more than 300.