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A Heaven for Chimpanzees

Updated on January 28, 2015
VladimirCat profile image

Vladimir is a former champion ratter (retired). His hobbies are bushwalking, birdwatching and nature studies

Chimpanzee and friend
Chimpanzee and friend

Where do you go when you retire?

What are your plans for retirement? I intend to laze about in the sunshine, stirring myself occasionally to converse with old friends.

But what do you do if you've spent your life in a cage, injected with diseases, undergone biopsies and suffered all manner of painful indignities? What if you have no home?

Countless chimpanzees, former lab subjects, circus performers or unwanted 'pets' faced a dismal future of confinement or death. Now there's hope for them. In the retirement village of Chimp Haven, a real Chimp Heaven.

Chimpanzee in cage
Chimpanzee in cage

Chimpanzees in Laboratories

Chimpanzees have been used as laboratory subjects in medicine and in space exploration for at least 60 years.

Chimpanzees in laboratories live in 5-by-5-by-7-foot stainless steel cages. They receive food and water but no attention or affection. Let's be real, labs aren't playgrounds or refuges, nor are researchers rehabilitators.

World-renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, after visiting chimps confined alone in cages, wrote : "They are so grateful for a little human contact and love. They reach out to me from their cages in search of a hug or a kiss. And when I turn to leave, they scream and bang the walls."

Chimpanzees have a life span of about 50 years. They can spend decades in cages.

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,

Has grown so weary that it cannot hold

anything else. It seems to him there are

a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,

The movement of his powerful soft strides

is like a ritual dance around a centre

in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils

lifts, quietly-. An image enters in,

rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,

plunges into the heart and is gone.

- La panthre dans le Jardin des Plantes, Paris : Rainer Maria Rilke

Chimps in Space

Enos the space chimp being inserted into the Mercury-Atlas 5 capsule, 1961
Enos the space chimp being inserted into the Mercury-Atlas 5 capsule, 1961

Photo of Enos from NASA

How you can help

Chimp Haven can't exist without your donations to help defray the expense of caring for the large community of chimpanzees.

The Laboratory Chimp Surplus

The great lab-chimp surplus is mainly due to AIDS.

An aggressive breeding programme was started in the 1980s on the assumption that chimpanzees would be ideal models for developing an AIDS vaccine for people. The assumption was wrong. Chimps can contract the virus, but they're virtually immune to its effects.

So laboratories were left with large numbers of chimps, infected with AIDS, unable to be used in any other research. What could be done with them? The easy answer was to euthanise all the surplus chimpanzees - and this is where Chimp Heaven stepped in.

Chimpanzee clutching a blanket
Chimpanzee clutching a blanket

Where Chimp Haven began

The chimpanzees couldn't go home. They had no home! Originally from Africa where chimpanzees are now a threatened species, these former lab chimps would be unable to live in the wild. On top of that, many suffered chronic illnesses from all of the experimentation.

In 1995, Linda Brent, behavioural primatologist, and Amy Fultz, primate behaviourist, founded a centre to deal with this growing number of surplus chimps.

In 2002 Chimp Haven was selected to construct and operate the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary System. It's an inspired piece of retirement legislation!

Today, over 100 chimpanzees are living the good life at Chimp Haven!

Chimpanzees playing in Chimp Haven
Chimpanzees playing in Chimp Haven

A little Piece of Heaven

Chimp Haven is a Heaven for these retired chimpanzees.

There are two five-acre wedges of woodland, accessed from the chimps' bedrooms and play areas, all under the watchful eyes of animal behaviourists, veterinarians, enrichment specialists and daily caretakers.

The bedrooms have fresh running water and cross-ventilation with lots of light from multiple windows and skylights. The beds themselves are perfect for a chimpanzee, hammocks made of used fire hose, with warm blankets and hay. They even have vanity mirrors!

At last, some peace and, more importantly, dignity, in the lives of these misused animals.

Chimp Haven

Happy group of chimpanzees in Chimp Haven
Happy group of chimpanzees in Chimp Haven

Meet some of the Fortunate Chimps

Sarah, an elderly chimp, spent most of her life in cognitive research with Dr. David Premack's lab at the University of Pennsylvania, with work documented in The Mind of an Ape (1983). She has her own listing in Wikipedia.

Sheba spent the majority of her life at the OSU Chimpanzee Center. She's incredibly intelligent and knows how to count.

Keeli, a handsome robust male, was born at Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research.

Ivy was also born at Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research.

Emma, a small young female , was born at UTMD Anderson Cancer center.

Harper was also born at UTMD Anderson Cancer Center.

All the chimps in Chimp Haven
All the chimps in Chimp Haven

© 2010 Vladimir

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    • VladimirCat profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Australia

      On your leg, Craftypicks? You need a black cat on the other one :)

    • Craftypicks profile image

      Lori Green 

      4 years ago from Las Vegas

      I love chimps and even have one tattooed on my leg. Thank you for such a wonderful article!

    • cdcraftee profile image

      Christine Larsen 

      6 years ago from South Australia

      They say cats have a well-developed sixth (or was that seventh??) sense along with their nine lives.

      You certainly show an amazing empathy with the monkey brain - and teach all of us lesser mortals how to see with 20/20 vision. And what a vision you inspire.

      Thank you Vladi

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      oh this is a wonderful lens Vladi / Sussanna - I can't help crying when I read about science lab animals - it is such a nightmare, and more often than not they suffer for tests that are not required or relevant or data can be sourced from earlier tests. I rejoice whenever I hear of a new sanctuary to retire lab animals to. What happens to dogs everyday, often for pet food manufacturers beggars belief, and is just not required. The pictures of the poor dogs will break your heart - like the pictures of lab tests... don't want to go on any more about it.. Just wanted to say, this is a great lens, and I'm going to make a donation to the shelter right now.

      Helene Malmsio aka SCSS

    • Mighty-Monkey-Man profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm glad that Chip research has nearly come to an end.

    • Paul Ward profile image


      7 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Revisiting to drop off a Blessing - well done Vladi.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      7 years ago from UK

      a very sad story with a lovely ending for the fortunate few.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Awwwwww. It breaks my heart that we still use animals (any animal) for research. It's just not right.

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 

      7 years ago

      A heaven on earth for chimpanzee's?! Right on. Bet you are doing a happy dance upon winning LOTD...congrats!

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 

      7 years ago

      Your message is so important. The reality of the situation is hard to take, but I am so thrilled to learn of this paradise has become available to them. Congratulations on LOTD. I hope it gets tons of exposure, and you need a purple start too. Blessed!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD!

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      Ruth Coffee 

      7 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      I'm glad to hear that someone is working to provide a good home for these chimps. When we chose to take control of their lives for our benefit, we made a committment in my eyes. We need to do whatever we can to take care of them. Failure to do this makes us less human.

      I recently saw a clip that supposedly showed some lab chimps seeing sunlight for the first time. If that doesn't bring a tear to your eye, I don't know what would.

    • andreaberrios lm profile image

      andreaberrios lm 

      7 years ago

      Cute page and very interesting topic.. Congrats on LoTD

    • concept247 profile image


      7 years ago

      Great topic of chocie and congrats on LOTD.

    • oceanfaerygoddess profile image


      7 years ago

      Beautiful lens, many congrats on LOTD it is well deserved. I watched a video the other day of chimps emerging into daylight after a lifetime in captivity - they had never seen the sky or the outside world and after a nervous look around they began hugging and celebrating - so sad what so many of them go through but so wonderful that they have places like this to go to.

    • CruiseReady profile image


      7 years ago from East Central Florida

      Thank you, Vladi, for sharing. It's hard to think about these chimps, but nice to think about how they must feel once they have settled in to Chimp Haven.

      Congrats on your LOTD ... and Walker sends his congratulations, too.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a wonderful place, though I wish it didn't have to exist. Thank you for sharing this, Vladi.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Fascinating topic. These creatures are so close to us, and we still know so little about them!

    • iQwestArticles profile image


      7 years ago

      Great story! It's astounding to me how acceptable it seems to be for so many of us to just move past such horrid treatment of chimps and other other animals for that matter. Adding to the problem is that stories like this are often under-reported so they don't get the attention they deserve. Again, great lens!

    • JackNimble profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens. I love monkeys of all kinds, but especially Chimps. This sad story makes me want to cry. Does anyone remember the old movie about Chimpanzees being experimented on with Matthew Broderick where he ends up letting them all out. That was a sad, but great movie. This lens made me think of it.

    • smithlights profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow! Awesome lens. I had no idea! Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Brandi Bush profile image


      7 years ago from Maryland

      Incredible lens...much deserving of LotD! :)

    • kateloving profile image

      Kate Loving Shenk 

      7 years ago from Lancaster PA

      I am thankful these animals found a good home. Congrats on LOTD! ****Blessed****

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Congratulations on a well deserved LOTD. Have you ever watched the movie Project X back in 1987. Here is a link on utube FYI. It's a great movie where one person made a big difference and set the captives free. You will love the movie. Thanks for looking out for our animal friends.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Congratulations, Vladi, for LOTD. What a heart you have.

    • cdcraftee profile image

      Christine Larsen 

      7 years ago from South Australia

      Just pawsed from mousing around to say you did a purrty good job on this one. I am truly in awe! What a beautiful way to end a previously tragic life. How lucky are we, my furry friend in our choice of the 'women .who feed us'!


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very cool post. I like how you put it all together and especially finding that old photo of chimps in space.

    • Retro Loco profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      Great job on lens!! Very touching. Congratulations on LOTD!!!

    • DogWatchColumbus profile image


      7 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD! So excited I know a celebrity:)!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      So sad that animals are treated like this. At least some of them will get to experience a little kindness and love if they are lucky enough to get into a place like this.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I've always wondered what would become of these poor creatures. A very well written lens on a subject so touching.

    • daoine lm profile image

      daoine lm 

      7 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD, Vladi!

    • ThatsYourPeople profile image


      7 years ago

      Well deserved LOTD.

    • chrisqw profile image


      7 years ago

      That's a great lens, well researched and well written. Thank you!

    • JanieceTobey profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for writing this! Chimpanzees are one of my most favorite animals. I have always loved them. A little bit of most of my lenses goes to Chimp Haven. I really appreciate what you are doing for them!! Congrats on LOTD!

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 

      7 years ago from Michigan

      A very well-written lens about a subject which is both sad and heartening. That such intelligent feeling animals are put through this sort of thing is sickening. But that such a place as this exists is uplifting.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for doing this...what a wonderful caring kitty you are. I have seen so many animal horrors that at this point in my life, I care, do what I can, but simply can't look at the pictures and videos anymore. There's enough of them in my head already. It's important to get those images in your head though, painful as it is, enough so that it sticks with you and you do something about it. Congrats on the LOTD, and hi to your owner;-)

    • vermontmom profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank goodness for this place! It gives hope that people care enough to create a place so beautiful for those who have no choice!

    • RawBill1 profile image


      7 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      What an awesome place for the chimpanzees to hang out. They are so much like us that it is a crime that they have ever been used for scientific experiments and housed in cages. They deserve to be as free as us humans do. Thanks for sharing and well done on LOTD! :-)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      It's a wonderful story, for the chimpanzees that have been saved. I grieve for all the animals that are being used in research. I find our world cruel in this.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing. Congrats to your LotD.

    • Coreena Jolene profile image

      Coreena Jolene 

      7 years ago

      How wonderful that they have a nice place to live now. I feel very sad when I read about all the cruel things that are done to animals. Very nice lens. Congrats on your LOTD.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      This is the sort of mistreatment of animals that gets me can we be so cruel to something living? I will never understand it, and to me, there is NO justification for it, medical, scientific or otherwise. Thanks for this lens, and I'm donating today!

    • Kiwisoutback profile image


      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Congratulations on LOTD, I'm glad you covered this subject, and that these chimps have a real (uncaged) place to live after being mistreated.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A nice article, thanks!

    • sponias lm profile image

      sponias lm 

      7 years ago

      Chimpanzees must be respected, like all wild animals must be respected. Unfortunately, human beings believe that they have the right to imprison animals into cages.

      Congratulations for thinking about the animal rights. I agree that this lens really deserved to be the Lens of The Day!

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 

      7 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you for highlighting the plight of these unfortunate animals, and the efforts of a few dedicated individuals who work so hard on behalf of the chimps.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent choice for Lens of the Day. My congratulations.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Congrats on your LOTD! It's a real shame that these chimps would be used and then discarded. Great that some of them are getting a home instead of the needle. Thanks for sharing this information. Very well done.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Congrats on your LOTD! It's a real shame that these chimps would be used and then discarded. Great that some of them are getting a home instead of the needle. Thanks for sharing this information. Very well done.

    • akumar46 lm profile image

      akumar46 lm 

      7 years ago

      Very good effort,congrats for LOTD.

    • BunnyFabulous profile image


      7 years ago from Central Florida

      What a great place! So glad that it exists for these chimps. Excellent LOTD!

    • PaulWinter profile image


      7 years ago

      A well deserved LOTD.

    • PaulWinter profile image


      7 years ago

      A well deserved LOTD.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This reminds me of the movie "Rise of the planet ape"!

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is a wonderful endeavour to help at least some of the chimps who would otherwise not have hope. Thanks for introducing Chimp Haven to us...I'm sure it feels like heaven to the chimps who have been fortunate to experience it. Congrats on a well-deserved LOTD!

    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 

      7 years ago from Pittsburgh

      Congrats, these chimps are so cute!

    • MrWidemouth profile image


      7 years ago

      Great job bringing attention to this cause! Great article

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Really nice lens!! I enjoyed it!

    • retta719 profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      This is a beautiful lens! (with an amazing cause) Congrats on the lens of the day, it's very well deserved :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Absolutely fantastic, Vlad. What a compassionate heart you have for other species. Congrats on LOTD.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Like your Lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I condemn the use of animals for experiments, there has to be an alternative for such hilarious tests. Congrats on LOTD for such a well deserved subject.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      7 years ago from Concord VA

      Very interesting! Congratulations on LotD!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Congratulations on your Lens of the Day award for this most excellent lens Vladi. I had no idea about Chimp Heaven and am so pleased that at least some of the chimps from labs have now found a good home.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Congratulations on your Lens of the Day award for this most excellent lens Vladi. I had no idea about Chimp Heaven and am so pleased that at least some of the chimps from labs have now found a good home.

    • TapIn2U profile image


      7 years ago

      How cute are the chimps! They deserve a place that they can freely roam around. A much deserving 'Lens of the Day' title. Great job! Sundae ;-)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderful lens. Chimp Haven is on of my charities. Congratulations on Lens of the Day.

    • delia-delia profile image


      7 years ago

      Yes Indeed a wonderful cause...we humans can be so cruel not using common sense JMO

      Congratulations on LOTD!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderful article about a good cause. I'm going to link to this charity from some of my lenses. Congratulations on LOTD!

    • Chris-H LM profile image

      Chris-H LM 

      7 years ago

      Heartbreaking treatment. So glad they have a home now. I think we lose a bit of our humanity when we mistreat animals.

      Congratulations on LOTD!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Beautiful. Congratulations on LOTD.

    • profile image

      Pete Schultz 

      7 years ago

      congrats on LOTD, and a worthy lens it is!

    • Paul Ward profile image


      7 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Congrats on LOTD. I'd have given a thumbs up for Rilke alone :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great that they have a place. LOTD is well deserved.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      How wonderful that they have friends like you; we have a similar place in the UK which does a similarly great job helping apes.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      7 years ago from Colorado

      A very moving lens about a remarkable refuge. These extraordinary animals deserve a place of sanctuary, and, they deserve our thanks for all of the sacrifices they make on our behalf. A hearty congrats on LotD!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      Great charity lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Congratulations for being featured today! You deserved it. It's worth reading too.

    • agoofyidea profile image


      7 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! You deserve it. This is a very important lens.

    • jodijoyous profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      Congratulations Vladi!

      -Jodi and Paris.

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 

      7 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Congratulations on the LOTD.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Well done! Good for them

    • Bercton1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice work! Congratulations on LOTD!

    • katiecolette profile image


      7 years ago

      These animals deserve a little piece of Heaven, and it's wonderful that Chimp Haven is a place they can call home. What a great lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Congrats! great lens......

    • JanezKranjski profile image


      7 years ago

      Really nice lens. It's nice to see that some one is ready to take care of animals that have no place to go.

    • littlelotus profile image


      7 years ago

      congrat son the well deserved LOTD :).....very touching...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Firstly, congrats of being a lens of the day.. and you deserve to be :)

      How beautifully you've written the pain of chimps... you made me cry

      A big thumb up for your job :)

    • susanmwalker lm profile image

      susanmwalker lm 

      7 years ago

      Really admirable work. I really request you to write more and more lens like this. we'll help you to make it viral.

      Great Job...voted up!!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

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      7 years ago

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      great information and wonderful contents!!!

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 

      7 years ago from California

      This really touched me. I am so glad there is a place called Chimp Haven

    • stylishimo1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Aww, your lens made me cry, I can't bear the thought of any animals locked away like that, at least now they are free and enjoying their lives. I hate the way animals are used like objects it really breaks my heart.

    • KarenTBTEN profile image


      7 years ago

      An important lens. The quote by Jane Goodall, and the image, tend to stick with a person.

    • Silwen LM profile image

      Silwen LM 

      7 years ago

      Great lens. It is goo to know, that there are people, who care about our little friends.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Sometime soon our fellow sentient beings will be given the same rights as homo sapiens.

    • jlshernandez profile image


      7 years ago

      The picture of the chimp in the cage made me teary-eyed. It is so sad that our fellow primates are used and discarded like rags. I am so happy there is a chimp haven which is heaven for these mistreated creatures.

    • Lenskeeper profile image


      7 years ago

      I am very much against using chimps in experiments. I wish that Chimp Haven could get the San Antonio chimps that were recently transferred there for research purposes. Thanks for the lens :)


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