Chimp Haven Receives Largest Gift in Sanctuary History

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Chimp Haven Receives Largest Gift in Sanctuary History

 Lead donation accelerates expansion at the national chimpanzee sanctuary

KEITHVILLE, La., Aug. 31, 2018 –Chimp Haven, the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in the world, has received a $10 million gift from philanthropists and conservationists Kimbra and Mark Walter for an expansion of the refuge.

It is the largest gift in the nonprofit’s history and one of the largest single philanthropic gifts to any animal welfare cause nationally.

The gift from the Walter Family Foundation leads the sanctuary’s  “Welcome Them Home” campaign, a $20 million fundraising effort to offer retirement to the more than 200 chimpanzees living in research facilities awaiting a spot in a sanctuary.

The sanctuary, which is near capacity, has raised nearly $15 million of the $20 million needed. That has allowed construction on the expansion to begin.

Chimp Haven is a lush, 200-acre forested oasis in Louisiana and already home to more than 250 chimpanzees, most of whom are retired from biomedical research. There, chimpanzees explore forested habitats, climb trees, play, socialize, and enjoy enriching food and lifestyle choices designed for their optimal health and welfare.

“Each time I visit Chimp Haven, I am genuinely impressed with the care and enrichment that its experienced staff provides for each chimpanzee,” Kimbra Walter said. “With these additional habitats, Chimp Haven will welcome many more chimpanzees waiting for a chance to simply be chimps. The Walter family is proud to be a part of this important project. We strongly encourage others, who, like us, care deeply for these incredibly deserving animals, to support this project as well.”

The Walters, who live in Chicago, invest the vast majority of their wealth in philanthropic causes, primarily those focused on social justice; closing the “opportunity gap” for low-income youth; and saving endangered species and preserving wild places. For instance, the couple owns White Oak Conservation, a 17,000-acre animal refuge in Florida, as well as wildlife preserves in Africa, where they are funding global efforts to protect endangered species from poachers and habitat loss.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) ended biomedical research on chimpanzees in 2015. Chimp Haven is the designated national sanctuary for all government-owned and supported chimpanzees that had been used in such research.

Chimp Haven has a team of experts whose vocation is providing these chimpanzees the very best care so they can experience the good life, what Chimp Haven calls the “Chimp Life.”

Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder, Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace recently visited Chimp Haven and expressed sincere appreciation for the donors who are supporting Chimp Haven’s expansion.

“There are still chimpanzees left in research facilities and so the campaign that Chimp Haven has initiated to bring the rest of them out is very, very important,” Goodall said. “Every single chimpanzee deserves to have at least a few years in a situation where their needs, their wants, their personalities and all the rest of it are taken into account.”

To learn more about chimpanzee retirement and how you can support the sanctuary’s efforts to provide a retirement refuge to more former research chimps, please visit

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, La., the sanctuary is home to more than 250 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