Who Is Behind the $2 Million Donation to Give Lab Chimps a New Home?

Chimp Haven will use the funds to expand its sanctuary and make room for an additional 200 chimpanzees.

Feb 12, 2019

More than 200 chimpanzees living in research facilities will be given a new lease on life in a chimp sanctuary thanks to an extremely generous and anonymous gift of $2 million.

The gift was made to Chimp Haven, a Louisiana sanctuary, in support of the organization's 'Welcome Them Home' campaign to build more habitats and expand veterinary services. This will allow the organization to take in more retired lab-chimps, according to the nonprofits press release.

"It’s very exciting to begin 2019 with such a generous contribution to chimpanzee wellbeing,” said Rana Smith, president and chief executive officer of Chimp Haven. “Donors like this make it clear that people are deeply committed to the retirement of former research chimpanzees. This national effort is as important as ever, which is why we’re working diligently to expand our habitats and give these chimps the sanctuary retirement they deserve.”

Chimp Haven was founded in 1995 to serve as a refuge for chimpanzees, most of whom were retired from biomedical research labs. The sanctuary is located on 200 acres of forested land near Shreveport in Louisiana. Currently, there are 260 chimps living out the rest of their lives in the sanctuary that is comprised of a wide range of habitats and natural forests.

The 'Welcome Them Home' campaign is raising funds to expand the sanctuary and will include new forested habitats and open-air enclosures. The new additions will provide space to take in the additional 300 retired chimpanzees that are waiting for a new home.

The first two residents of Chimp Haven were Rita and Teresa who came to the sanctuary in 2005. Today 40 employees care for the 260 chimps at the shelter.

Federal funds support a large amount of the money needed for the lifetime care and feeding of the government-owned retired chimps, but the organization relies on donations to cover the cost of the expansion. The $2 million donation follows a recent $10 million donation from Kimbra and Mark Walter through the Walter Family Foundation in 2018.

Giving the best home possible for these retired chimpanzees who were used to help human medical tests is the best Thank You we can give them. We must welcome them home.

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Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.