GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT SAVE THE CHIMPS
Q. Where is Save the Chimps located?
A. Save the Chimps is located in Fort Pierce, Florida . Fort Pierce is on the Atlantic coast about one hour north of West Palm Beach.
Q. Is Save the Chimps open to the public?
A. No. True sanctuaries that are accredited by GFAS and members of NAPSA have restrictions on public access. We have promised the chimps a peaceful retirement and freedom from exploitation of any kind, including public exhibition. We do have two Member Days per year in which donors at the $50 level and above may sign up to receive a guided tour of the sanctuary. We also have one invitation-only on-site event per year for members of our Caregiver Society. You can also participate in our annual Chimpathon 16k race. For more information on our giving levels and benefits please visit Donate.
Q. I will be visiting your area soon. Can I come by for an afternoon for a tour or to volunteer?
A. Save the Chimps is closed to the public except for Member Days, our annual Caregiver Society event, or tours by invitation only. Individuals who wish to volunteer should visit our volunteer page for more information on our Volunteer Program and its requirements.
Q. How is Save the Chimps funded?
A. Save the Chimps is entirely funded through donations from individuals like you and private foundations.
Q. Is Save the Chimps government funded?
A. No, Save the Chimps does not currently receive government funding.
Q. Who is Save the Chimps affiliated with?
A. Save the Chimps is an independent organization accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), and a founding member of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA). STC collaborates with other local, national and international organizations working to protect great apes.
Q. Does Save the Chimps breed chimps?
A. No, we do not deliberately breed the chimps. However, birth control is never 100% guaranteed, and we have had a few accidental births due to failed vasectomies. Our last accidental birth was in 2007.
Q. Why don’t you breed? Aren’t chimpanzees endangered?
A. Although chimpanzees are indeed an endangered species, professional sanctuaries do not deliberately breed their residents. Sanctuaries exist solely to provide a permanent home for individuals (chimpanzees or members of other species) who have been mistreated or kept inappropriately in some way—used in biomedical research, kept as pets, orphaned due to poaching, used in the entertainment industry, etc.–and who need a safe, enriched place to live out their lives. Sanctuaries are nonprofit organizations with limited space and resources. If a sanctuary breeds, then the space and resources that could be used to provide a home to an individual in need are taken up by the babies born at the sanctuary. Additionally, chimps are long-lived; a baby chimp is a 50+ year commitment.
Some sanctuaries in range countries may practice reversible birth control, to keep open the option of release back into the wild. However, chimps in the US are not candidates for release for a number of reasons. Chimps need to learn from their elders how to survive in the wild—what to eat, how to obtain food, where water sources are located, how to avoid predators, etc. Chimps born in captivity do not have this opportunity, and would not instinctively know how to survive.
They may also harbor pathogens that could decimate wild populations, and may have genetic differences that could have unforeseen negative consequences. (There are several subspecies of chimpanzees across Africa, and most US chimps were bred indiscriminately, not according to subspecies.)
Q. How do you keep from breeding?
A. The male chimpanzees have all had vasectomies.
Q. Does Save the Chimps have a veterinarian?
A. Yes, we employ two fulltime veterinarians on staff, as well as two full-time and one part-time veterinary technician.
Q. How are the chimps treated medically?
A. It depends on the severity of the illness. Most chimps are treated with oral medication when needed. We simply mix the medicine in juice and they drink it. More seriously ill chimps may need injections, IV fluids, or rarely, surgery.
Q. What kinds of illnesses do the chimpanzees get?
A. Chimpanzees may experience heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney failure, liver disease, and diabetes. Chimps can also get respiratory infections such as the common cold or the flu. Additionally, the chimps may also suffer from psychological illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD.
Q. Do the chimps ever injure each other?
A. Yes, the chimps can and do injure each other, just as they do in the wild. However, injuries are typically minor and heal on their own. Our veterinarians will treat more serious injuries with antibiotics, sutures, or surgery.
Q. Do any of your chimps need a home? I can provide excellent care.
A. No. Save the Chimps is not like a dog or cat shelter; we are not looking for homes for the chimps. Save the Chimps is the chimps’ “forever home”, and we have a large staff who provide high quality care seven days per week, 365 days per year.
Q. Why did you choose to locate the sanctuary in Florida?
A. The warm weather and humid climate are ideal for chimps and is similar to the climate they would experience in Africa.
Q. What do you do if there is a hurricane in Florida?
A. The sanctuary in Florida was built with hurricanes in mind. The chimps’ indoor living areas are built to withstand hurricanes. If a hurricane threatens, the chimps are all locked indoors. Food, water, and other supplies are stocked. Staff members remain in each “chimp house” with the chimps for the duration of the storm. We have been through two hurricanes so far, resulting in only minor damage to some solar panels. The chimps were not bothered by the storms at all!
Q. When will all of the chimps be in Florida?
A. Save the Chimps has moved all of the chimpanzees from our former location in New Mexico, the site of what was once The Coulston Foundation, to our island sanctuary in Florida. The last chimps to be moved arrived December 14, 2011.
Q. Why did it take so long?
A. When Save the Chimps took over The Coulston Foundation in 2002, our founder and director Dr. Carole Noon estimated it might take ten years to get all the chimps moved to Florida. It ended up taking us 9 years and 3 months!
The first step was to make the conditions there livable for the chimps, and to make introductions and group formations physically possible. This required extensive renovations and took about a year.
The next step was to construct eleven 3-5 acre islands on our property in Florida, along with the indoor “chimp houses” attached to each island, and the island structures themselves. As islands were completed, chimps moved in. In order to move chimps to Florida, we required trained staff to accommodate the increase in the number of chimps we are caring for, and that training took time. The physical movement of the chimps also took time. When we moved chimps, we moved ten at a time. It takes 3 days to get to Florida, and then 3 days to get back to New Mexico, plus time for our drivers to rest in between. To move an entire group of 25+ chimps took a minimum of three weeks.
Last but certainly not least, we formed most of the family groups in New Mexico before they moved to Florida, and the formation of a single family group of 25 chimps can take six months to a year.
Q. What will happen to the property in New Mexico?
A. The Board of Directors decided to put the property on the market for sale or lease, and use any future proceeds for the care of the chimps in Florida.
Q. Our local zoo has a chimp living in bad conditions/My neighbor has a pet chimp living in his backyard/There is a lab in my town with chimpanzees. Can you rescue them?
A. Consistent with our mission, we work actively with other chimpanzee sanctuaries and animal rights/welfare groups to do what we can to rescue chimpanzees from situations such as these.
In addition, to our efforts, a new governmental ruling will go into effect September 15th. That ruling will provide captive chimpanzees with protection under the Endangered Species Act. This designation will make it harder for chimpanzees to be kept in situations such as what you have described.
Save the Chimps has no authority to confiscate chimpanzees from other facilities. We can only accept chimpanzees who are willingly and permanently transferred to us by their owners or confiscated by law enforcement and transferred to Save the Chimps.
DONATING TO SAVE THE CHIMPS
Q. Are my donations tax-deductible?
A. Save the Chimps is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization and all contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Our Federal Tax I.D. number is: 65-0789748.
Q. I would like to donate by check. Where do I mail my donation?
A. Donations by check or money order should be made out to Save the Chimps and mailed with the printer-friendly donation form to:
Save The Chimps, PO Box 12220, Fort Pierce, FL 34979.
Q. I looked you up on the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator, but your organization is not rated. Why?
A. The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator require a different type of tax return than the one Save the Chimps has used in the past. From 2007 to 2013 the IRS required Save the Chimps to file a 990-PF form instead of a 990. Based on that, we have not met the criteria of having filed seven years’ worth of 990 forms. Therefore, the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator will not rate us. Save the Chimps began filing regular 990 starting for the fiscal year 2014.
There are 1.4 million charities registered with the IRS, and over 9,000 of which receive a rating from either the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance or Charity Navigator.
Not receiving a rating from the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance or Charity Navigator simply means the organization does not meet their criteria for a rating. A lack of a rating does not indicate a positive or negative assessment by any means. Save the Chimps is not eligible for a rating at this time.
Save the Chimps has been mandated by law to file the 990-PF, however, we feel that you should know the following:
- Save the Chimps has maintained its tax exempt 501C3 status since its inception in 1997;
- For the years 2008 through 2013 the IRS required Save the Chimps to file a 990-PF tax return;
- Beginning in 2014 the IRS is requiring Save the Chimps to file a regular 990 tax return form each year.
We encourage you to view our rating on the GuideStar website.
Q. What kinds of things do the chimps need the most?
A. Our greatest need is always money, so no amount of donation is too small. Please visit our donation page to donate online. If you prefer to send a care package, please check out our Wish List. Care packages may be sent to Save the Chimps, 16891 Carole Noon Lane, Fort Pierce, FL 34945.
WORKING AT SAVE THE CHIMPS
Q. Is Save the Chimps run by volunteers?
A. No. The staff at Save the Chimps is made up of over 50 paid employees.
Q. How can I apply for a job at Save the Chimps? Do you have job openings?
A. If you are interested in a position at Save the Chimps, please send a cover letter and resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. Do you have contact with the chimps?
A. We do not have physical contact with the chimps because they are many times stronger than an adult human and can cause serious injury. We don’t go in the cages with them or touch them directly, unless they are under anesthesia for a physical. However, we do see, talk to, and interact with all the chimps. We know them, and they know us.
Q. Do you have a protocol on what vaccines and screening you give to your staff who are handling and taking care of the chimps?
A. Employees of STC are screened annually for TB. We also provide tetanus vaccination every ten years, and the 3-dose hepatitis B vaccine. Employees may waive these vaccines in accordance with health and safety regulations. We also recommend staff receive a flu shot annually, which is provided at no cost through their health insurance.
We also prevent transmission of illness and parasites through preventative protocols, such as wearing of masks or face shields and gloves, hand washing, and quarterly deworming of the chimpanzees.
Q. Does Save the Chimps offer internships
A. At this time, Save the Chimps does not have an internship program for undergraduate or graduate students, with the exception of students currently enrolled in veterinary school. Students interested in gaining experience at Save the Chimps are welcome to apply to become a volunteer at Save the Chimps. Volunteers who come to Save the Chimps from out of town are responsible for finding their own housing and transportation. Internship opportunities at North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) member sanctuaries may be found at http://www.primatesanctuaries.org/news/job-listings/. We appreciate your interest in learning more about the work done at Save the Chimps, and we hope to offer internship opportunities in the future.
Q. Has there been a documentary done about Save the Chimps?
A. Save the Chimps was featured in the Nature documentary, “Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History” as well as in National Geographic’s “Chimps on the Edge.”
Q. I am a journalist/filmmaker, and would like to do a story/film about Save the Chimps.
A. Members of the media may contact us at email@example.com. Please familiarize yourself with the contents of our web site, as this will answer many of the questions you may have.
ABOUT THE CHIMPS
Visit our Chimp Facts page to learn more about chimpanzees.
Q. How long do chimps live?
A. Chimps typically live for 40-60 years.
Q. What do chimps eat and how often?
A. In the wild chimps eat fruit, seeds, nuts, leaves, insects, and small mammals such as monkeys or bush pigs. They spend most of their days either eating or looking for food. At Save the Chimps, we feed the chimps three meals of fresh fruits and vegetables per day, plus commercial “monkey chow” (nutritionally complete biscuits). They also get food treats in their enrichment, as well as chopped veggies, fruit, and seeds scattered on the island. In general, if humans can eat it (and like to eat it), so do chimps.
Q. Can chimps swim?
A. No, chimps cannot swim. Their muscle mass and body structure makes it physically impossible for them to swim and their natural instincts are to avoid water. The lakes around their islands are therefore a natural barrier; the chimps can be contained without the use of bars and cages.
Q. Do the chimps know sign language?
A. One of our chimpanzees, Thelma, was a student of Roger Fouts and used a few signs. Liza was used in a sign language program at University of Pennsylvania in the early 1980s. We have never seen her use sign language, although she does raise her hand when she wants something. Sadly, Thelma has passed away. A chimpanzee named Mona whom we rescued in 2011 also knows a few signs. None of our other chimps were used in sign language studies.
Q. Are you teaching them sign language?
A. No. It is not necessary to teach chimps sign language in order to communicate with them. They have spent most of their lives around humans so they understand some spoken English. They are also very good at reading our body language and gestures. We are also familiar with chimp vocalizations, and will use their own language of hooting, panting, facial expressions, etc. to talk to them. In order to communicate with us, the chimps use their own vocalizations. They will also gaze or point at something they want or something that has startled them. Chimps are very emotional beings and don’t often hide their feelings, so it’s usually pretty easy for us to tell if a chimp is happy, scared, angry, and so on.
Q. What kinds of research were the chimps used for?
A. Most of the chimps’ individual records do not contain specific information about the types of research they were used in. However, we do know that some of the chimps were used in pharmacological studies (to study the effects of a new drug, for example), hepatitis research, and experimental surgeries.
Q. Do any of the chimps have AIDS?
A. No, none of our chimps have been infected with HIV.
Q. Do all of the chimps live together?
A. No. We have several distinct family groups of chimps, most 20-26 chimps in size.
Q. Do you try to build families with siblings?
A. We form our groups based mainly on three things: both genders, a wide spectrum of age ranges (young, old, middle-aged, teenagers), and chimps who like each other. Very often siblings or other relatives end up in the same family.
Q. Do chimps who are related and were separated know each other?
A. The chimps’ records are often unclear, and we don’t always know if, when, or for how long any relatives lived together. Sometimes it does seem to us that mothers and children, for example, have a special bond even if they never spent time together, but in other instances there seems to be no recognition or special relationship between relatives.
Q. How do you know who can live together?
A. The caregivers know the chimps very well, and will suggest chimps who they think will get along well together. But in the end, we don’t know for sure until we actually open the door and introduce two chimps to each other. We do introductions under controlled conditions so we can intervene if there is an argument, but in the end it’s up to the chimps to decide if they will get along.
Q. Can captive chimpanzees be released back into the wild?
A. Captive chimpanzees in the United States cannot be released back to the wild for multiple reasons:
- Chimpanzees must learn from their elders how to survive in the forest—what to eat, where and how to find food and water, how to make tools, how to avoid predators, etc.–they cannot survive based on “instinct.” Captive chimps in the US have been denied the opportunity to learn the skills needed to live independently. They are completely dependent upon us for their survival.
- There are at least four subspecies of chimpanzees in Africa, each with subtle but distinguishing physical and genetic characteristics. Chimpanzees in the US were bred indiscriminately, not based on subspecies. If these chimps were released into the wild it could disrupt the genetics of current populations.
- Captive chimps from the US could introduce diseases to wild populations, potentially wiping out thousands of chimpanzees.
- Chimpanzee habitat is rapidly disappearing—even if US chimps could be released into the wild, there is little wild for them to go to.
The only captive populations currently believed to be potential candidates for reintroduction into the wild are chimps living in African sanctuaries—victims of the bushmeat trade whose general origins are known and who may have opportunities to acclimate to the forest and learn survival skills over a long period of time.
Q. I saw the Nature documentary, “Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History.” How are Ron, Thoto, and Lou doing?
A. Ron, who was afraid to leave the patio when he first arrived in FL, happily got over his fears and spent several years enjoying the island life with his beloved companions April, Melody, and others before peacefully passing away on his island home in 2011.
Lou and his family left their old lab cages behind forever in March 2007 to move to his new island home. Joined by his friends Olivia, Opal, Bam Bam, and Shellie, Lou was at last able to roam freely and enjoy the grass, trees, and hills that his island offered him. Lou passed away of sudden heart failure in 2011, and was with his chimpanzee family when he died.
Thoto loved the freedom of the island from the moment he set foot on the grass, and he spent many subsequent nights sleeping al fresco. His caregivers often found campsites on the island with several blankets woven into a cozy nest under a palm tree. Sadly, in 2012, Thoto passed away of heart failure, surrounded by those who loved him. A starfruit tree was planted at the sanctuary in memory of the chimp who slept under the stars.
Q. How is Tom, the chimp who climbed a tree in the Nature documentary?
A. The documentary featured chimps from three different sanctuaries: Save the Chimps, Center for the Great Apes, and Fauna Foundation. Tom was a resident Fauna Foundation in Canada, but sadly he too has passed away.
Q. What kind of education do I need in order to work with chimps?
A. It depends on the type of work you would like to do. With regards to sanctuaries, each organization has its own requirements that vary from no college degree required—just compassion, a strong work ethic, and a willingness to learn—to the requirement of an advanced degree. In general, a combination of education in biology, zoology, psychology, or anthropology, along with practical experience such as volunteer work at a sanctuary or in “the field” (in Africa) will help you reach your goal of working with chimps.
Q. Does Save the Chimps offer internships or externships?
A. At this time, undergraduate internships are available only to students of Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, FL. Veterinary externships are available to veterinary students currently enrolled in veterinary school. An internship for undergraduates at other colleges and universities is in development. On-site and/or complimentary housing is not available for interns or externs.
Q. What can be done to stop the use of chimps in biomedical research in the US?
A. In 2013, US government agencies proposed several policy changes that will significantly reduce the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) which funds most chimpanzee research in the US, announced that it would significantly reduce the use of chimpanzees in research, and retire approximately 300 federally-owned chimpanzees, keeping 50 in reserve for potential future research.
As of September 2015, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has declared all chimpanzees endangered. This makes it unlawful to conduct invasive research on chimpanzees without a permit, effectively ending the use of chimps as medical research subjects.
In November 2015, the NIH announced that the final 50 NIH-owned chimpanzees that were being held in reserve for future research will also be retired and moved to sanctuaries, ending all research on chimpanzees that are owned by the US government.
Although this is all good news, for the nearly 750 or so chimpanzees still living in research labs, much work remains to be done to ensure that all chimpanzees formerly used in research are retired and provided a permanent home in professional sanctuaries. Members of the public can help by donating to chimpanzee sanctuaries, urging institutions to provide funding for the retirement of their chimpanzees, and promoting public awareness of the plight of the former research chimpanzees.
Q. Do chimps make good pets?
A. No. Chimpanzees grow to be seven times stronger than an adult human male and can cause serious injuries, not to mention physical damage to your home and belongings. Chimps sold as pets are kidnapped from their mothers by breeders, grow up thinking they are human, and then suffer terrible sorrow and confusion when they are put in a cage because they are too dangerous for human contact. They have difficulty living with other chimps even if they do make it to a sanctuary. If you truly care about chimps, please do not acquire one as a pet.
Q. Where can I buy a chimp?
A. Save the Chimps does not support the breeding and sale of chimps as pets, so we cannot help you locate a chimp for purchase.
Q. How can I start my own sanctuary?
A. Establishing and running a sanctuary is a difficult and expensive undertaking. You must establish a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization with a board of directors, acquire funding, land, permits, architectural designs, a staff, and so on. The process of establishing a sanctuary takes extreme commitment and years of preparation.