Donate Today

Your donation helps provide care for the nearly 240 chimpanzees with:

  • three daily meals of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • first-rate medical care
  • enrichment activities that encourage natural behaviors

Donated funds:

  • help maintain the 12 three-acre island homes
  • allow chimps space and freedom to wander to their hearts content

Ways to Give:
ADOPT | DONATE | SHOP

Just like us, their lives were normal, until one day things changed.

Some of our chimps were born in the wild, in Africa. Their parents were likely killed during their abduction. They were put in a crate and sold to the armed forces in America or to a lab stateside. From that moment on their life was never the same.

They were locked in a 5x5x7 ft cage — sometimes suspended from the ground. There was no family to interact with, they were subjected to repeated exams and in the cases of the Air Force chimps, tests for gravity, for speed.

And yet their spirits survived. Thanks to your support, decades later they were released onto their island homes in the Florida sun and their spirits soared. Those that were born in the wild, most of them ran right out. One chimp, Gromek, loved being outdoors so much he almost never came in the habitat house, preferring to sleep under the stars. And Jaybee, strode out onto the island like he owned it.

When so much in the world is hard, and our news so troubling — think of the resilience of our resident chimpanzees. Think of Gromek under the stars. Think of Jaybee strutting out on to the island beckoning others to follow, absolutely sure of where he was going, even though it was all new to him.

He was headed outside, with his family at his side. To bask in the sun, to enjoy the freedom of a world denied to him.

Thank you for your long term support of our sanctuary. If you haven’t yet had a chance to participate in our Board Match Challenge, your gift will mean more when it’s doubled.

We can identify with our closest cousins like never before. Their resilience inspires us, their stories show us that we too can craft the kind of world we want to live in, where chimps are free, where we rely on each other like never before.

Thank you for your long term support of our sanctuary. If you haven’t yet had a chance to participate in our Board Match Challenge, your gift will mean more when it’s doubled.

Only gifts and pledges made by May 15th will be matched, you can make a real difference in the lives of our residents, won’t you please give now?

Sincerely,

Dr. Andrew Halloran
Director of Chimpanzee Care and Behavior

 

Double your Gift. Double the Difference!

Your gift will be matched!

With so many of us sheltered in place we are facing circumstances we never envisioned. It leaves many of us without the comfort of our daily schedules and ritual ways of interacting with the world, it robs us of our normal ways to connect. That feeling of comfort, community, connection, has never been more tangible then when it has been threatened.

And never before have we been closer to experiencing what it might have been like for our closest cousins, chimpanzees in captivity. 92% of our residents spent over two decades as subjects of biomedical research. Isolated in cages without the comfort of each other, of ways to connect, and yet they found ways to endure. There is no more amazing sight than to see a group of chimpanzees who have a whole island to explore sitting next to each other, grooming, offering comfort.

With everyone worried about what the future holds, we at the sanctuary have taken extra precautions to preserve the open and free way of life our chimpanzees have come to know. But we too are worried, about the costs of supplies and like everyone, about the delivery of essential daily needs.

As we launch our annual board match today, your gift today can help us to ensure a hopeful — and safe– future for our resident chimpanzees by donating – and thanks to our generous Board of Directors, EVERY gift you make will be doubled!

  • $15 will be doubled to be worth $30
  • $30 will be doubled to be worth $60
  • If you can donate an extra generous $100 it will be matched and doubled to $200
  • Any amount you give today can be doubled, for twice the support at a critical time.

We know many of you are facing hard, uncertain times, which we all hope will be alleviated by summer. For those who want to participate in the board match, but can’t because of your current circumstances, we’ve created a pledge page where you can sign up for what you feel comfortable giving and the payment will be delayed until World Chimpanzee Day on July 14th. That will give you the time you need to recover and you can still show your unending support for our wonderful sanctuary — and your gift will still be still be matched!

Help us prepare for the unknown and continue to give our beloved residents the retirement they deserve by giving today. Only gifts made by May 15th will be matched, and this campaign starts today, right now, with you. Won’t you please give now?

Double your Gift. Double the Difference!

April Birthdays

Who doesn’t love presents?
The chimps do and they  most definitely deserve them!

Visit our wishlist to send goodies for the chimps.
A big pant hoot thank you for your generosity and support! 

Whoopi

April 5, 1990

Taz

April 5, 1997
Taz Dec 2011 (3)

Roger

April 7, 1991
April 7, 1991 Roger

Guilder

April 9, 1997
April 9, 1997 Guilder

Daveeta

April 10, 1996
April 10, 1996 Daveeta

Tapioca

April 10, 1987
April 10, 1987 Tapioca

Jimbo

April 10, 1994
April 10, 1994 Jimbo

Adina

April 21, 1995
April 21, 1995 Adina

Connor the 2nd

April 26, 2002
April 26, 2002 Connor the 2nd

 Plum

April 27, 1983
March 12 1975 Mary Jane

April 1st

April 29, 1979
April 29, 1979 April 1st

Tony

April 30, 1986
April 30, 1986 Tony

Chaka

April 30, 1994
Chaka

Virtual Field Trip Wednesdays at 9:30am

Join Save the Chimps here for a virtual field trip every Wednesday at 9:30am (EST) — you can access it via our Facebook page or by visiting this page.  Each Wednesday, Dr. Andrew Halloran will take you around the Sanctuary, pointing out what is unique about our facility and what’s so fascinating about our closest cousin, the chimpanzee.  And get to know each of the island’s and their family groups.

Join our mailing list for updates from the Sanctuary!

Chimpathon 5K/10K Race Announcement

Due to the COVID-19 Virus the 2020 Chimpathon has been postponed to November 15th, 2020.

The 2020 Save the Chimps Chimpathon 5K/10K that was originally scheduled for April 19th, 2020 has been rescheduled for November 15th, 2020.

While it is unknown if Coronavirus (COVID-19) can be spread to non-humans, we know that a common cold can be deadly for chimps. The care of our resident chimpanzees must come before any other considerations. As such we are erring on the side of caution and closing the sanctuary to any and all public events for up to six weeks or as long as the CDC and Florida Health Department recommends. To ensure that our resident chimpanzees and their caregivers remain safe we will follow all suggestions from local health officials as well as any government agencies. In addition, we have issued a new comprehensive COVID-19 Prevention Protocol for volunteers and staff.

At this time if you have already registered you currently have two options:

  1. Stay in the race and run on the new date.
  2. Request to be transferred to the Virtual Race and have your medal & shirt mailed to you at no extra charge. This change must be requested by April 19th.
    1. To request your transfer to the virtual race please email info@southerntimingfl.com and the change will be made within 2 business days.
    2. Once the medals and shirts have shipped you will receive a confirmation email with your tracking number.

This is not the outcome for Chimpathon we were hoping for, but we need to take every step necessary to help stop the spread of COVID-19. We feel that we have a social responsibility to everyone in our community  and our chimpanzee residents to do whatever we can to help stop the spread of this virus.

For information and CDC recommendations on how you can protect yourself from COVID-19 please visit the CDC’s website https://www.cdc.gov/

If you have any questions about the decision to postpone the 2020 Chimpathon please email Southern Timing at info@southerntimingfl.com

 

A Special Request

Help Us Prepare.

A special request…

March 13, 2020

Dear Friends,

Below are some highlights from our Spring newsletter — I hope you enjoy reading the amazing milestones our resident chimpanzees have made in just the last few months. These chimps, they really are amazing people!

But I am writing with concern, and with a special request for assistance. The entire world is reeling with the ever-evolving story that is CoVID19. At the Sanctuary, we have taken extensive precautions to ensure our resident chimpanzees are protected — including new protocols for staff and volunteers — and cancelling any and all on campus events. But there are additional steps we need to take and to do that we need your help.

We are worried about supply chain disruptions — causing delays in access to necessary medical supplies and fresh produce. We need to order essential backup supplies now. Out of fiscal responsibility, we are operating on a thin margin — with little to no wiggle room for contingencies. As such, we need your help.

For those of you who can give, a considerable gift now (of $10,000 or more) will significantly impact our ability to be responsive and flexible in the face of an ever changing global landscape. For those of you who can give just $100 — that too will go a long way when combined with other gifts.

Together we will weather the unknown, always taking inspiration from the peaceful lives of our resident chimpanzees.

Save the Chimps

Help Save the Chimps!

Whoopi Proves It’s Never too Late!

Whoopi was born at the Coulston Foundation but shipped to another lab early on where she was kept in isolation for the first nine to ten years of her life. Because of her time in the lab, Whoopi used to self-mutilate – her arms and calves were covered in scars. And in fact, Whoopi was in such an agitated state when she was rescued by STC in 2002, our founder Dr. Carole Noon, wasn’t sure Whoopi would ever be able to overcome her anxieties and be with other chimps. She would literally scream for hours when she was introduced to a new chimp. Well, seventeen years later life couldn’t be more different for Whoopi. She lives happily at Bobby’s – surrounded by a loving family. She only shows agitation around feeding times and so her caregivers take extra care when passing out the food. Whoopi is often described as one of the smartest chimps at STC, she can be asked to go and retrieve something and hands it right over to her caregivers. Sweet and friendly, she often is the first to greet a family member. She loves sunbathing and being outside on the patio. Because of her fondness for food, she is also one of our larger females. Noticing her girth, one of her caregivers began an exercise program with her this past summer. Her trainer would demonstrate the movements such as: squatting up and down along with moving from one side of the room to the other side. Whoopi accepted the challenge and trained 15 minutes at a time, three to four days a week. Within one month the results were remarkable: where at first she would struggle to pull herself up and down for the squat, she now pops up quicker than her trainer! Whoopi has not only slimmed down, but her mobility has dramatically improved. “She is excited to get a good workout in and show off her moves,” added caregiver Christine Ponticelli.  As a result, Whoopi has more confidence in herself – moving around more than she has in the past. We are so proud of how far she has come and continues to go — Go Whoopi Go!

JR’s Big Fat Chimpanzee Family

JR came to sanctuary in 2013, after a concerned citizen intervened on his behalf. He had been living alone for many years, and engaged in selfinjurious behavior, at times biting his own arm. In addition, once at sanctuary, it was discovered that he has arrhythmia – as such he is carefully monitored both for his heart condition and for his anxiety and agitation. In fact, STC’s first Primadome – a pre-fabricated geodesic dome especially designed to enrich the lives of captive great apes – was located at Seve’s building specifically for JR and his small group. “It really allows us the ability to maximize each of the areas for each of the groups, giving J.R. and his smaller group the quiet time away from the larger group,” added Director of Chimpanzee Care and Behavior Dr. Andrew Halloran. (Pictured is Chelsea and JR playing.) And yet, despite all those special considerations, part of STC’s philosophy of care is to maximize opportunities for each of our residents – to never underestimate their ability to adapt and to give them every chance to expand their worlds. Taking that to heart, JR’s caregiver and Section Five Curator, Torrie Gagne, continued to champion on JR’s behalf. In February, JR reached a milestone, sharing the island with ten members of Seve’s family – the largest group he has been with in recent years. “They all did fabulous, it was great to see him so happy and playing with so many different family members,” added Gagne. JR has come so far in the last seven year’s, we can’t wait to see what’s next for this remarkable chimp.

savethechimps.org    The world’s largest privately funded chimpanzee sanctuary
Meet the Chimps | Chimp Life | About Chimps

About CoVID19 & The Sanctuary

While it is unknown if Coronavirus (CoVID19) can be spread to non-humans, we know that a common cold can be deadly for chimps. The care of our resident chimpanzees has to come before any other considerations. As such we are erring on the side of caution and have issued new guidelines for staff, volunteers, and upcoming events including a comprehensive CoVID 19 Prevention Protocol.

Out of an abundance of caution we have made the decision to close the sanctuary to public events including upcoming VIP tours. A decision about Chimpathon will be made shortly. We will follow all suggestions from local health officials as well as any government agencies to ensure that our resident chimpanzees remain safe.

General preventive measures we are taking include: 

Staff and volunteers who have symptoms of illness must stay home and not report to the sanctuary until they are cleared by a doctor or their symptoms subside. STC is making special accommodations to our sick leave policy to ensure no staff are penalized for erring on the side of caution.

Anyone with symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath is requested to see a health care provider (don’t ignore it and think it’s just a cold) and is required to stay away from the chimps! Do not come to STC if you are at all sick or if anyone in your household is sick.

Frequent hand washing is very important in preventing diseases of all sorts when hands are not gloved. Please wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, remembering to include all surfaces of the hands, not just the palmar surface. Wash after using the toilet, before and after meals (since your hands would touch or are close to your face when you eat), after coughing or sneezing, as soon as you arrive at work and just before you leave work for the day.

Extra precautions on campus include:

  1. Personal Protection Equipment: All chimpanzee care staff or personnel with access to chimpanzees or their food, medication, enrichment (food and non-food) or housing, will wear masks and exam gloves at all times when working with chimpanzees or with any items which will be consumed or handled by chimpanzees. This includes when personnel (employees or volunteers) are inside chimpanzee housing for cleaning, feeding, enriching, medicating, making health assessments, making repairs, training, feeding, etc. This also includes personnel involved in food or food enrichment preparation in the kitchen. There is no reason, at this time, to prevent the PPE from being used in multiple buildings except in the buildings under pre-existing quarantine (Alice, Tanya and Tapioca). Face shields are not required at this time except in the aforementioned quarantined buildings.
  2. Foot Baths: Foot baths will be placed at all entrances to chimpanzee housing as well as the kitchen, food storage areas and the outside entry points to the veterinary medication room and procedure room. The disinfectant in the foot baths must be replaced first thing every morning, before the midday meeting and at the end of the day (due to need for the evening shift to deliver evening medications). The disinfectant solution must be refreshed as needed during the day to prevent evaporation. We are looking into creating a dual bath protocal (wash with water first and then disinfectant). 
  3. Keep Footwear Separated: Do not wear shoes or other footwear worn at work outside the sanctuary.
  4. Dispose of PPE Properly: All used PPE must be placed in receptacles which can be tightly closed to prevent the PPE from falling out or blowing away. All trash receptacles containing used PPE will be placed in the dumpster by the close of business and not held over for disposal by evening or overnight staff.
  5. Personal hygiene: Keep your hands off your face, including when you wear gloves. Touching your face with your gloved hands contaminates the glove(s). Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. Use hand sanitizer after using the toilet. It will be provided in every bathroom on campus. Cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue away in a closed trash receptacle.

Please understand there is no reason to panic but since we don’t know the effect of CoVID19 on chimpanzees (minor illness versus deadly) and we know there are chimpanzees at the sanctuary with preexisting conditions which could increase their risk level if exposed to CoVID 19, we are responding with an abundance of caution. Thank you to all our staff, volunteers, and supporters for their care and concern. 

Watch! Details on Chimpathon 2020

Join us for Chimpathon on April 19!

Did you know Chimpathon is now a 5k, 10k, and fun walk?! Each course takes you through Save the Chimps, passing the twelve island homes of our nearly 240 chimpanzees. Enjoy hearing the wonderful sounds of pant-hoots and watching the chimpanzees roam as you run or walk beside their island homes. Out of consideration for our sanctuary residents, registration is limited.

It’s not just the course that makes Chimpathon special! Every registrant will receive a Chimpathon t-shirt and a goodie bag filled with an assortment of donated giveaways. Each finisher will receive a collectible Chimpathon medal. The best part is, 100% of all dollars raised directly benefit the nearly 240 chimpanzees living in permanent sanctuary at Save the Chimps.

Space is limited. Register today to secure your spot.

March Chimp Birthdays

Who doesn’t love presents?
The chimps do and they most definitely deserve them!

Visit our wish list to send goodies for the chimps.
A big pant hoot thank you for your generosity and support! 

 

Venus

March 3, 1997

March 3 1997 Venus

Schotzie

March 4, 1994schotzie-resized

Millie

March 5, 1992March 5 1992 Millie

Olivia

March 5, 1975

olivia-resized

Scrappy

March 9, 1999

Scrappy Aug 2011 (2)

Garfield

March 9, 1991

garfield-resized

Mickey

March 12, 1978

mickey-resized-1

Cartier

March 12, 1972

March 12 1972 Cartier

Nadia

March 13, 1962

nadia-resized

Cookie

March 13, 1989Cookiewithgift

Torian

March 14, 1997

Torian June 2012 5 stars close up

Maya

March 15, 2007

Maya 2014

Spike

March 16, 1990

March 15 1990 Spike

Ragan

March 16, 1995

ragan-resized

Patrick

March 16, 1984

patrick-resized

JJ

March 17, 1997

March 17 1997 JJ

JB

March 17, 2003jb-resized

Abdul

March 18, 1975IMG_7110 Abdul

Christopher

March 19, 1986

christopher-resized

Jean

March 20, 1996

Jean July 2011 (2) crop

Belinda

March 21, 1993

belinda-resized

Olida

March 22, 1974

olida-resized

Geraldine

March 23, 1984

geraldine-resized

 

Tyra

March 24, 1998

Tyra

Alora

March 26, 1998

March 26 1998 Alora

Kayla

March 26, 1987March 26 1987 Kayla

Genoveva

March 28, 1993

Genoveva

Cody

March 28, 2000

Cody close up April 2012

What We’ve Learned

A Chimp’s Death Leads to Bold Change at the
World’s Largest Privately Funded Sanctuary for Chimpanzees

When Tiffany the chimp was euthanized on the morning of August 16, 2018, it was the end of two months of heartbreak, struggle and frustration for the staff at Save the Chimps (STC) in Fort Pierce, Florida.

It also became the catalyst for bold change for an organization known for taking on bold initiatives. Eighteen months after Tiffany died, Save the Chimps leadership and structure are dramatically different – there is an entirely new leadership team; there’s a brand-new veterinary team led by Dr. Valerie Kirk; there’s a new Director of Human Resources, Jennifer Brown; the kitchen and veterinary department have been entirely revamped and the behavior department dramatically restructured.

In this detailed report, we aim to take you on this journey with us–using Tiffany’s death as a way to highlight the ways we have grown– we owe it to our amazingly dedicated staff and to our loyal supporters to be as honest and transparent as we can.

Tiffany had been voluntarily surrendered to STC—  the world’s largest privately funded sanctuary for retired and rescued chimpanzees—  from her former owner in Missouri on April 14th of 2018. At the age of only thirteen, Tiffany was one of two chimpanzees surrendered that day— both had been raised by a private owner who loved and adored his “pets” (chimpanzees should not be raised as pets) but who was ill equipped to deal with two boisterous and growing chimpanzees.

As is the case with any chimpanzee being transferred across state lines, a physical exam was conducted. While her companion, Tuffy, was found in decent health (albeit overweight), Tiffany’s physical revealed she was positive for Epstein Barr virus. Rather than let her remain in living conditions not suitable for a growing chimpanzee, STC decided to bring her to sanctuary, regardless of her health status. In humans, Epstein Barr virus causes mononucleosis, in non-human primates it “is often the kiss of death,” according to an article in Science. It can cause wasting disease as well as a host of other ailments.

The first few weeks for Tiffany at STC were an adjustment, as they always are. “Former pets can be the most difficult cases to transition to sanctuary life,” added STC Director of Behavior and Chimpanzee Care Dr. Andrew Halloran. Because Tiffany and Tuffy had been raised on a diet of junk food, the fresh food and vegetables offered at STC was quite different from their previous (unhealthy) diet. Tuffy and Tiffany arrived at STC on April 20, and almost immediately caregivers noticed differences in their eating patterns, leading some to speculate that perhaps they both had been fed one large meal later in the day, as they both seemed disinterested in early feedings.

At Save the Chimps we feed the chimps three times a day — a diet that consists of fresh vegetables and fruit as well as a balanced chow specially formulated for monkeys and apes. (For more on what we feed our chimps, see www.feedingthechimps.org.) For chimps coming from a private owner a transition to a healthy diet can take some time, and their diet is often temporarily supplemented with foods they are more comfortable with such as spaghetti or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (Or in Tuffy’s case, baked beans, which are now substituted with chickpeas in barbecue sauce – he’s making progress!).

As soon as it became clear that Tiffany and Tuffy were having a hard time adjusting to their new feeding schedule, a food log was started as is standard practice for such cases at STC. As you can see in the graphic, a food log documents what a chimpanzee is offered as well as what was consumed— this helps all departments see a holistic picture of what is going on with a chimpanzee. In addition, an official log called a “welfare case” was started by the behavioral department on both chimpanzees. This is yet another safeguarding system that tracks behavioral markers from a separate department.  At the time, these systems, the food log, the daily chimp care log and the behavior welfare case were all separate – run by different departments on different systems.

One of the most important initiatives started by Dr. Halloran was to streamline (and professionalize) our record-keeping. “When I was hired at STC, it was apparent that we could, as a staff, improve our knowledge of accepted standards and practices in caring for chimpanzees,” added Dr. Halloran. On July 1, 2019, ZIMS, a web-based animal information management system, was rolled out by the new veterinary staff. The care and behavior staff were all trained on how to use ZIMS. All animal care and welfare information thereby became integrated into a single powerful computer program. “ZIMS has been critical in sharing real time information across departments – everyone has the same information available to them to enable quick and accurate decision making,” . “It’s just one of the ways Dr. Halloran and the vets have helped us professionalize our protocols.”

Despite their odd eating schedule, there are documented records of both Tiffany and Tuffy eating well their first few weeks at STC. However, in late June 2018, a common cold swept through parts of the sanctuary and both Tiffany and Tuffy came down with it. In humans, the common cold can be a nuisance. In chimpanzees, it can be deadly. “It was completely unknown that rhinovirus C could infect anything other than humans,” said Tony Goldberg, DVM, PhD, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine in a study reported in the American Veterinarian. “It was surprising to find it in chimpanzees, and it was equally surprising that it could kill healthy chimpanzees outright.”

It is one of the reasons we ask staff and volunteers to not come in when they are sick and to wear face masks when they are near a chimpanzee. It is also one of the key reasons STC is in the process of changing our kitchen layout and procedures – to prevent reverse zoonosis – the transfer of a virus or bacteria from humans to non-humans. Our new veterinarian team, led by Dr. Valerie Kirk, has been instrumental in reworking the kitchen protocols to lessen traffic through the food prep area, as well as leading the sanctuary in instituting new personal protection equipment including masks for anyone getting within four feet of a chimpanzee. “We can easily unknowingly pass on a virus that can kill a chimpanzee,” added Dr. Val.

From late June 2018 until Tiffany’s death on August 16th, there were differing opinions from staff on what should be done regarding her treatment. As Tiffany’s health and appetite declined, tensions amongst staff increased, especially senior staff. It is to be expected: these are professionals who have dedicated their time, their efforts, and in some cases, their careers to helping chimpanzees in need. To not be able to help a chimpanzee is against their very nature.

Tiffany’s challenging medical case and her death in August 2018, became a tipping point in what were reportedly stressed relationships between the senior management, veterinarians and staff at the time. The issue created such stress that over a three-to-four month period, several staff members left, including the entire veterinary team, behaviorist, CEO and others who are no longer employed at STC, for a variety of reasons ranging from resignation to retirement.

It is clear looking back now, where we failed as an organization – our employees needed help and support at a time of deep emotional crisis and we didn’t provide enough. We didn’t have a protocol in place for transparently sharing information, nor did our staff have an HR professional on staff they could turn to, nor were they provided with adequate resources to emotionally handle an unexpected and unexplainable death.

We have since hired a professional director of HR who immediately signed up our employees for a free and confidential Employee Assistance Program. In addition, she regularly holds trainings and workshops with supervisory staff on best practices. We have standardized protocols for staff following the passing of a chimp. Our vet staff is proactive about sharing information regarding procedures, diagnostics, tests and necropsy (animal autopsy) results. In addition, Dr. Halloran has since held a workshop with our care staff on compassion fatigue, with more workshops planned in the future. We send out weekly updates to staff and volunteers (and other hearts who care!) on all goings-on at the sanctuary: what procedures are being done, who is being watched for particular issues, what new initiatives we are rolling out.

How do we know we failed our staff? They told us, first in letters written to the Board, then in outreach to partner organizations like the Animal Welfare Institute and USDA. They wrote with concerns about what they felt was a “polarizing” and “non-empathetic” work environment lacking communication and HR support for employees.

The STC Board took their concerns to heart and acted immediately — bringing in independent investigators to interview staff and audit our departments and internal processes. Over a period of three weeks in the fall of 2018, former and current staff were interviewed and departments and protocols were analyzed. The fact-finding report was released to the Board and senior leadership. And the findings were telling. It was clear that strong and decisive leadership needed to be a priority for the organization. Those investments have been made, first with the addition of a new Executive Director, and then with the hire of Jennifer Brown, a human resources professional who works directly  on numerous initiatives designed to strengthen the organization and better serve its 61 employees.

“Since she started, Jennifer has demonstrated key leadership, bringing Save the Chimps internal processes to a much higher, more efficient level. Her deep commitment to doing what is right, to enhancing the working lives for our employees is unmatched; it is an honor to have her as a key member of our leadership team,”.

In her short time with the organization, Jennifer has overhauled the Human Resources Department, streamlining vendors and processes and has instituted a formal training program for sanctuary department managers. In addition, she has recruited and successfully retained 35 full-time employees, as well as launched several initiatives including time clock management and employee goal setting. Goal setting is a top priority. All senior staff, departments, and employees have outlined both short-term and long-term goals for 2020. .

Another way we failed our staff during and immediately following the death of Tiffany was not being clear on who is responsible for decisions regarding the care of our resident chimpanzees. It was and always has been the responsibility of the veterinary department to make any and all medical decisions regarding diet, care and treatment.  But it was clear from the communications from the staff and their communication to the USDA that a clear delineation of leadership roles and procedures was needed. And while it may have been true that other departments voiced their opinion in regards to Tiffany’s care (as they should for all our chimps), the decision making ultimately falls to the veterinarian. The fact-finding report clearly showed: “Significantly, nothing in the treatment records indicates that any staff failed to implement, disregarded, or even challenged the treatment orders of Tiffany’s veterinarians. None of the veterinarian notes indicate that the treatments prescribed for Tiffany were not carried out.”

Other departments can and should voice their opinions but ultimately all decisions on care are deferred to the vet team.  We work hard to support our new vet team and make sure everyone on staff listens to and respects their decisions, especially the difficult ones that involve life and death.

There is no question that Tiffany’s medical case was challenging, and it baffled many veterinary professionals. We are open about the challenges the team reportedly faced in treating Tiffany, and we are open to sharing the necropsy report and the fact-finding report as it relates to Tiffany’s case. To this day, the cause of her death remains undetermined despite the necropsy report by the University of Florida. “The truth is, Tiffany’s health was likely compromised before she came to Save the Chimps and our team did the best they could by her, and it wasn’t enough,”.

During the last 18 months, as a result of the staff outreach, we have worked with the USDA numerous times, always in partnership, finding ways we can improve on our policies and procedures. Much good has come out of this strategic partnership. One of which is our newly revised Chimp Care Policy Manual drafted by staff and led by Dr. Halloran.

In addition to rolling out ZIMS which empowers each care staff to document, in real time, chimp behaviors and care issues, new Section Curators were named. Each Section Curator is charged with not only the management of their buildings, but also for planned introductions amongst chimpanzees as well as developing daily enrichment plans. (Enrichment enhances the lives of our chimps through cognitive and sensory stimulation).  “The care staff spend the most time with our chimps, they know these chimps, their likes and dislikes, their interactions – it just makes the most sense to have them making those decisions,”.

In the last year, significant strides have been made on the veterinary side as well. Dr. Valerie Kirk came to STC a year ago and her first job was to build her team. She added two certified Vet Techs, created a position for a Pharmacy Assistant, and hired Dr. Kelsey McClure as Associate Veterinarian. There are plans to bring on another veterinarian as soon as the right candidate is identified.

Dr. Val has also worked hard to build a collegial network of professionals she can lean on in any number of ways from diagnostics to advice. This network has been key in helping expand our veterinary services. As a way to thank our medical practitioners and to build our collegial network, Save the Chimps is holding its first Medical Practitioners Appreciation Day on April 4th (to receive an invite email lisa@savethechimps.org).

In addition, the collegial network has been key in helping us develop our new procedure room. In fact, under the leadership of Dr. Val, and in discussion with visiting veterinarians and several experts, it was determined that a state-of-the-art transport vehicle with a stationary procedure room would best fit the veterinary department for all its current needs, including rescue, transport, as well as examinations and small procedures. With a grant from the Albert Schweitzer Animal Welfare Fund, a transport van was purchased and customized and a procedure room was remodeled and outfitted. As a result of our expanded on-site abilities, the veterinary department has collaborated with the Great Ape Heart Project in providing essential data for the goal of reducing cardiovascular related mortalities in great ape species. In addition, our on-site procedure room has enabled the Peter Emily International Veterinary Dental Foundation to send their teams to assist in the treatment of our resident chimpanzees. The ease of transport due to the new van and the accessibility of our procedure room enables STC to make the most of these visiting professionals. As a result, we have been able to significantly increase the number of chimps we can successfully treat for dental issues.

In addition to making the most of what we can do in-house, the entire leadership team visited several of our sister sanctuaries in late fall of 2019. Dr. Val was impressed with the hospital suite at the Brevard Zoo and the surgical suite at Chimp Haven while everyone loved the kitchen at Project Chimps. Studying best practices from other sanctuaries is another key initiative, “We can only get stronger by sharing what works best.”

In the next few weeks we will be releasing our Spring Newsletter which talks more in depth about our visits to other sanctuaries, and about some of the exciting new opportunities at the Sanctuary. Meanwhile, if you love watching videos of chimps eating as much as we do, head on over to www.feedingthechimps.org where you can do just that and learn more about the changes to our nutrition program, led by the ever-amazing Dr. Kelsey.

The staff – then and now – have never wavered in their deep commitment to providing quality care for every chimp here. We appreciate you taking the time to look at our progress and to recognize the significant changes that occurred here in the last eighteen months, not because STC was broken, but because it could be made better.  “We want to assure our most valued supporters that the commitment of our amazing team to the magnificent chimps living here with our care is more than professional, it’s personal. And we feel privileged to dedicate our lives to their well-being every day,” .

Thank you for your continued support!