Chimpanzees are naturally very social beings, and they generally live in family groups of several dozen individuals. Their natural habitat is the rainforest, although wild chimpanzees are also known to inhabit swamp, savannahs, woodlands, and bamboo forests. Chimps in the wild spend equal time on land and in trees, but they do most of their eating and sleeping up in the forest canopy. Chimpanzees that have been taken from their natural habitat are often denied contact with other chimps, along with spaces to roam and climb. This is especially true of chimps that are rescued from research facilities, where chimps are usually held in cages, sometimes with little to no contact with other chimps.
Such was the case with the chimpanzees of the Coulston Laboratory, which owned 266 chimps. Facing bankruptcy, Frederick Coulston sought help from Save the Chimps in 2002. Through the generosity of the Arcus Foundation and other donors, Save the Chimps purchased the lab and assumed care for all the residing chimps. The living conditions were far from ideal, so Save the Chimps adapted the space. Chimps that live at the former Coulston facility now live in enlarged cages, with social groups. They get fresh food and attention daily.
Our goal at Save the Chimps is to provide rescued chimpanzees with the social contact and habitat that they need. Thus the Save the Chimps chimpanzee sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida accommodates up to 300 chimps on twelve three-acre islands. Each grassy island has hills, palm trees, and climbing structures, so the chimps can climb, explore, or bask in the sunshine. These “islands in the sun” provide ample space for large family groups. With a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, attention from our dedicated caregivers, and lots of stimulating enrichment, the chimpanzee habitat at Save the Chimps’ Florida Sanctuary is the ideal home for our rescued chimps.