I was recently in Ft. Pierce, Florida, and had the incredible privilege of visiting the largest chimp sanctuary in the world, Save The Chimps. From the moment I set foot on this amazing 200 acre piece of land, I could hear and see the chimps playing in the distance. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. There were no fences or bars – just wide open islands separated by water, covered in gorgeously-designed chimp habitat.
Most of these chimps were torn from their families, and shipped off to spend decades (some for as long as 40 years in a concrete box) as Air Force research “tools”, biomedical research subjects, entertainment, and pets. The psychological and physical trauma most of these chimps have endured is incredible, and that is why Save the Chimps is so important.
In 1997, Carole Noon, sued the Air Force, who was giving chimps away to the Coulston Foundation in Alamogordo, NM – a biomedical laboratory with the worst record of any lab in the history of the Animal Welfare Act. After a year-long struggle, Save the Chimps gained permanent custody of 21 chimps, survivors and descendants of those captured in Africa in the 1950’s and used by the Air Force in the original NASA “chimpanaut” program.
These former lab chimps now live in social groups of friends that they have developed on their own. Many walk and play on grass for the first time since they were children. Soon, the entire group of 266 chimps will all have been transported from Coulston to their permanent home in Florida as the habitat is completed.
PBS recently did a documentary called ‘Unnatural History‘ that focused on our disgraceful history with chimps, and the efforts of organizations like Save the Chimps. You can watch a clip here:
Start off by giving a chimp adoption as a holiday gift! This year, instead of wasting your money on trinkets and plastic crap – give the gift of a good life to Mel or Jaybee or other chimps who have been through so much. Your support will provide care for all of 2009. Your gift includes a full color photo, adoption certificate and more!
HELP BRING THEM HOME!
Relocating one chimpanzee from New Mexico to permanent sanctuary in Florida costs $2,500; this includes the expense of caregiver staff on both ends of the trip, veterinary care, transport vehicle maintenance, fuel costs, and the work of bringing a new chimp building on-line in Florida.
The custom-built Save the Chimps trailer will make at least 26 four-thousand mile round trips between New Mexico and Florida (that’s equivalent to driving around the Earth four times), carrying 10 chimpanzees each time. The trailer is designed so that each chimp has a window seat and can watch their journey across the United States!
You can sponsor a chimp’s trip to Florida by making a personal donation, giving the donation in a friend or family member’s name, or organizing a fundraiser at your school, business or community organization. We will provide brochures, newsletters and temporary tattoos for fundraising purposes upon request. Contact Save the Chimps for more information.