In January, nonprofit chimpanzee sanctuary Project Chimps opened their outdoor, six-acre Peachtree Habitat to 15 apes that had spent their entire lives indoors in captivity for biomedical research.
“This was the first time in their lives that these chimpanzees could exercise their free will with regard to their environment,” Ali Crumpacker, executive director of Project Chimps, said in a press statement.
In November 2015, the National Institutes of Health decided to no longer fund experiments involving chimps due to a 2015 ruling from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that classified all chimpanzees, both wild and captive, as endangered.
Project Chimps was founded to supply former research chimpanzees with a 236-acre sanctuary in northern Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
The group expects to receive more than 200 chimpanzees from the University of Louisiana’s New Iberia Research Center in the next few years, with 31 chimps transferred to their sanctuary to date. The organization plans to build three additional outdoor habitats with accompanying indoor housing. — Shelby Jones