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Elderly chimpanzees are living the island life after being rescued by Save the Chimps sanctuary

 

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Stu, estimated to be more than 51 years old, is the oldest of the four chimpanzees who were recently relocated to the Save the Chimps sanctuary in Fort Pierce.

FORT PIERCE — Save the Chimps, the world’s largest sanctuary for rescued chimpanzees, recently welcomed four elderly chimpanzees to the island sanctuary in Fort Pierce. The chimps, ranging in age from approximately 39 – 51+ years, were rescued from the Wild Animal Orphanage (WAO) in Texas after the facility closed due to bankruptcy.

The new arrivals will join 216 resident chimps who spend their days exploring islands of grass, palm trees and hills, and climbing structures that allow them to run and roam, visit with friends, or find a quiet corner to relax, bask in the sun, or curl up in the shade.

For Stu (50+ years old), Mona (51), Ursula (39), and Andrea (40), the island life is a far cry from their original existence at the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP). There, they were housed in small steel cages that hung above the ground. When the lab closed in the late 90s, the chimps were relocated to a lab in Louisiana and later to the Wild Animal Orphanage, which entered bankruptcy last year and began relocating many animals to other facilities.

Save the Chimps was able to offer a home to 11 of the WAO chimpanzees.

“We are thrilled they will be living out their twilight years here at our sanctuary in an environment where they can roam freely,” said Sanctuary Director Jen Feuerstein.

Seven additional chimps were rescued from the Wild Animal Orphanage and have been temporarily relocated to the Save the Chimps sanctuary in New Mexico. At the New Mexico facility, 64 chimps are waiting to relocate to Florida in an effort dubbed the Great Chimpanzee Migration.

“Our facility in New Mexico was once a laboratory. While we have made major improvements, it still doesn’t compare to our sanctuary in Florida,” Feuerstein said.

Relocating a single chimpanzee from New Mexico to Florida costs $2,500. Costs include the expense of caregiver staff on both ends of the trip, veterinary care, transport vehicle maintenance, fuel costs, and the work involved in bringing a new chimp building online in Florida.

The custom-built Save the Chimps trailer will make at least 26 3,800-mile round trips between New Mexico and Florida, carrying as many as 10 chimpanzees each time.

“We relocated these four chimpanzees directly to Save the Chimps in Florida due to their advanced age, but we intend to move the other chimps as soon as they are integrated into a family group and funding is available,” Feuerstein said.

Save the Chimps is hosting the following benefit to raise funds for the organization:

March 23, 6 – 9 p.m.

The Colony Hotel

155 Hammon Ave.

Palm Beach

Tickets for the benefit are $200 for individuals and $350 for couples and include a vegetarian cocktail reception and silent auction; special guests include Robert L. Crippen (captain, USN, Ret.), legendary NASA Astronaut and pilot of the first space shuttle; and Mariana Tosca, award-winning actress and social activist.

For ticket sales and information, contact Save the Chimps at (772) 429-0403 or events@savethechimps.org. To help relocate a chimp to its new home in Florida or for more information, visit http://www.savethechimps.org.

About Save the Chimps

Save the Chimps is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing permanent sanctuary for the lifelong care of nearly 300 chimpanzees rescued from research laboratories, the entertainment industry and the pet trade.

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