Chimp Haven supporters,
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact us all, I want to share an update on the latest measures Chimp Haven is taking to ensure the safety of our team and the chimpanzees.
As a no-touch facility, our staff does not directly touch or handle the chimps, and all staff members wear personal protective equipment – including face masks, face shields, and gloves – any time they are in close proximity to the chimps or entering a chimpanzee living space. (Note: As of April 6, the sanctuary is in urgent need of homemade face masks. If you are interested in donating homemade masks, please click here for more information.)
While we don’t know for sure if chimpanzees can contract the disease, we are working as though they can since they are vulnerable to other respiratory diseases such as influenza. The Chimp Haven team has been working its response plan since the first cases were reported in the Shreveport area. A few examples of the latest safety protocols we’ve implemented include:
- All Animal Care staff are now working a “split shift” and practicing social distancing to reduce risk of transmission to each other and the chimps
- Non-emergent chimpanzee access (including physicals and introductions) and external visitors to the sanctuary are being suspended for the timebeing
- New safety protocols related to disinfecting chimpanzee food and equipment and enhanced PPE guidelines are being implemented
In addition, as we face the uncertainty that the coming weeks hold, many of our programs must be paused for the chimps’ safety. Social distancing will mean that our Positive Reinforcement Training and Gympanzee programs must be placed on hold. New chimpanzee transports may be postponed. And the behavior monitoring we perform with the chimpanzees will need to be done from a distance – all with their health and safety at the forefront of our minds. (You can read more about some of the precautions we’re taking in this New York Times article: Chimp Sanctuaries Restrict Visits Over Concerns About the Coronavirus.)
We know this is a challenging time for everyone, and we’re so appreciative of your support of Chimp Haven as we face these uncertainties. The health and safety of our team and the chimps is our top priority, and we’ll continue to evaluate any additional measures we need to take in the coming weeks to ensure their wellbeing.
Rana Smith, President & CEO