Britches Wants To Help Other Primates!

The Britches Campaign is touched to learn about the work being carried out by Save the Chimps and wants to help provide a permanent sanctuary for the lifelong care of chimpanzees rescued from research laboratories, entertainment and the pet trade.

Save the Chimps - who are they?

Save the Chimps was established in 1997, under the leadership of Carole Noon, Ph.D., STC's Director, in response to the U.S. Air Force's announcement that it was getting out of the chimpanzee research business. At the end of the long giveaway process, most of the chimpanzees, described by the USAF in a Wall Street Journal article as "surplus equipment," were sent 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. Save the Chimps sued the Air Force on behalf of the chimpanzees given to the Coulston Foundation. 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.

The vision of Save the Chimps was -- and remains -- to create a Sanctuary where rescued chimpanzees can live out their lives without the threat of ever returning to a laboratory. A generous donation by the Arcus Foundation enabled Save the Chimps to purchase 200 acres for a permanent sanctuary in Ft. Pierce, Florida. The Sanctuary environment was carefully designed to nurture and stimulate these sensitive and complex primates by creating a secure and enriching environment, including the construction of a three-acre island on which to safely express natural behaviors. These former lab chimpanzees now live as a social group.

With the Florida Sanctuary a reality for the 21 Air Force chimps, an unexpected event rapidly expanded the scope of Save the Chimps.

Rescuing the Coulston Lab Chimps

In September 2002, the Coulston Foundation, with governmental funding withdrawn due to violations of the Animal Welfare Act, was on the verge of bankruptcy. Frederick Coulston contacted Dr. Noon and offered to sell the laboratory land and buildings to Save the Chimps, and "donate" all its 266 chimpanzees. With the future of the primates in jeopardy, Save the Chimps received an unprecedented grant of $3.7 million from the Arcus Foundation to purchase the New Mexico laboratory. Additional funding from the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, Doris Day Animal League, Friends of Washoe, In Defense of Animals and New England Anti-Vivisection Society (and others) made this the largest ever single effort on behalf of captive chimpanzees.

Immediately after taking possession of the lab, Dr. Noon and her staff began to modify the stark Alamogordo facility into a healthier and happier environment for the chimpanzees now in their charge, including, for the first time in their lives, fresh food, enlarged cages, enrichment activities, compassionate caregivers and, most importantly, the  establishment of social groups. By introducing the chimps to one another and allowing them to form family units, while still in New Mexico awaiting completion of the islands and facilities in Florida, their transition to the Islands in the Sun will be much faster and smoother.


Islands in the Sun: A Permanent Home in Florida

With the acquisition of the Coulston Lab, planning began for the expansion of the Florida facility to accommodate the New Mexico chimps. Construction is now complete on 11 additional three-acre islands, each linked to a housing and care center by a land bridge. The natural environment gives the chimpanzees a comfortable home in which to socialize and rebuild confidence shattered by years spent isolated in small cages.

135 chimpanzees have already moved from New Mexico to their new outdoor homes in Florida, and The Great Chimpanzee Migration continues...

The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but rather, "Can they suffer?"
~Jeremy Bentham

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