KEITHVILLE, La., Feb. 22, 2018 – For nearly a century, chimpanzees were used in biomedical research due to their genetic similarity to people. Those efforts came to an end in 2013 when the National Institutes of Health made a landmark decision it would no longer support invasive research on chimpanzees, and would officially retire all NIH-owned chimpanzees to sanctuary. Recently, a historic milestone was reached in these efforts; for the first time in United States history, there are now more chimpanzees living in sanctuaries than remain in research facilities.
Hundreds of former research chimpanzees have transferred over the years to Chimp Haven, a private, non-profit organization designated by NIH as the national chimpanzee sanctuary.
In 2017, 42 individuals made their way from Alamogordo Primate Facility to Chimp Haven. As the last new arrivals for the year in December set foot on sanctuary soil, an important balance shifted – the number of chimpanzees who remain in research laboratories is now fewer than those who are living in accredited sanctuaries throughout the country. There are now more than 550 chimpanzees living in accredited sanctuaries, and fewer remaining in research facilities (both privately and federally funded).
“I always hoped, but never imagined, that in my lifetime we would actually see the release of all of these chimpanzees to the joys and opportunities of sanctuary. This is incredibly special to witness and help make happen,” said Amy Fultz, who is a co-founder of Chimp Haven, and has served as their behaviorist for 13 years.
Fultz was instrumental in helping develop a solution for chimpanzee retirement in the early 1990s. She co-founded Chimp Haven in 1995 and welcomed the sanctuary’s first two chimpanzees in 2005. Today, Chimp Haven is home to more than 230 chimpanzees with more slated to arrive in 2018. The 200-acre forested sanctuary located just outside Shreveport, Louisiana is currently fundraising to expand and build more habitats and veterinary suites to welcome 100 or more chimpanzees within the next few years.
To learn more about chimpanzee retirement, and how the public can help transition more former research chimps to sanctuary, please visit chimphaven.org.
About Chimp Haven
Chimp Haven, the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary, is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that serves as a refuge for chimpanzees, most of whom were retired from biomedical research. Located on 200 acres of rich forested land near Shreveport, Louisiana, the sanctuary is home to more than 230 chimpanzees who are able to live out the rest of their lives in comfortable retirement. The sanctuary is dedicated to meeting the needs of its chimps. It is made up of a wide range of dynamic habitats for the chimpanzees, including multiple acres of natural forests for them to explore. More information can be found at chimphaven.org.