Rescuing the Coulston Chimps and Transforming a Lab into a Sanctuary
|At the Coulston Foundation, Mickey languished alone in her windowless cell for decades.|
In 2002, The Coulston Foundation (TCF), with funding withdrawn due to violations of the Animal Welfare Act, was on the verge of bankruptcy.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, New England Anti-Vivisection Society, and others made this the largest ever single effort on behalf of captive chimpanzees. On September 16, 2002, Save the Chimps took over TCF, overnight becoming the world’s largest chimpanzee rescue sanctuary.
Dr. Noon and her staff modified the stark TCF facility into a healthier and happier environment for the chimpanzees, including, for the first time in their lives, fresh food, enlarged cages, enrichment activities, compassionate caregivers and, most importantly, the establishment of social groups. Chimps who had lived alone or in very small groups for decades now had the opportunity to become part of large chimp families.
At the same time, an enormous construction project commenced in Florida to transform 150 acres of old orange groves into twelve islands with twelve connectiong houses; a city for 300 chimpanzees.
The rescue of these chimpanzees transitioned into the "Great Chimpanzee Migration", Save the Chimps' multi-year effort to relocate the chimps from the former lab to heir island homes in sunny Florida. A custom trailer was made to transport ten chimpanzees at a time - each with a window seat - to the sanctuary in Florida.
On December 14, 2011, the Great Chimpanzee Migration ended and the final group of 10 the chimps that once resided at the Coulston Foundation having been migrated to Florida where they will will live out the rest of their lives on their Islands in the sun.