Project Chimps, a sanctuary for retired lab chimpanzees in Georgia opened its door and welcomed 10 new chimps. Few of them were, of course, hesitant, because they had never seen the open sky before in their entire lives!
One of them was Precious, a 28-year-old chimp, who was one of the the oldest in the group. A camera in the 6-acre habitat called the Peachtree Habitat, showed Precious stepping on to the wooden platform where some fruits were left foe the chimps to enjoy. She then started to look around.
“She led the way and was soon followed by Krystal, Jill, Jamie, Jurita, Haylee, Tristen and Sophia,” Project Chimps wrote in a release. “Tiffany and Torian were the most apprehensive, hanging back … Eventually, they both overcame their fears and stepped outside.”
Watch the heartwarming video below:
Jurita was the oldest one on the group. She was 29 and like Precious, she also began looking around. That was when she saw Krystal, the 9-year-old chimp being overwhelmed as she sat there on the wooden platform with open sky right above her head. So, Jurita went right over to Krystal and gave her a warm hug!
“It was like Jurita was saying, ‘We’ve got a whole new life here. It is OK. It is safe,'” Leslie Wade, manager of communications for Project Chimps, told The Dodo. “[Precious and Jurita] were the first to go over and check out the forest and the other chimps followed … and really gave them the reassurance to go explore.”
The chimps who live in Project Chimps are all brought from New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana. According to Wade, the lab holds the largest population of captive chimps in the entire world.
Lab Chimpanzees were recognized as endangered species protection in 2015, because of which, labs could no more use them for research. The ones at New Iberia are currently living in a semi- outdoor habitat. Meanwhile, Project Chimps is working very hard to increase the habitat for these animals. All df which, of course, depends upon donations.
“We have 49 here at the sanctuary,” Wade said, “and more than 160 at the lab.”
The new group were so excited to be in their new home the first day.
“This was the first time they were able to roam around with open sky above their heads,” Wade explained.
“The chimps sat outside the door on the new wooden platform built just for them,” Project Chimps wrote. “The platform proved to be the perfect spot for the chimps to get their bearings, enjoy some of the fruits and nuts scattered outside for them, and reassure one another that everything would be OK.”
For these ladies, something more interesting than snacks may be waiting for them.
Apparently, Jurita has spotted a male chimp group named Marlon’s group in a neighbouring habitat.
“She walked back and forth and issued a loud chimpanzee bark to let them know that she’s one of the highest-ranking females in her social group,” Project Chimps wrote. “No doubt, Marlon took notice!”
Precious, on the other hand, has someone very special living at Project Chimps—her daughter, Loretta. She has not seen her since she was born.
“They have not met yet,” Wade said, “and they live right next to each other.”
However, being outside in the open forest and snacking together was enough for the day. When their care giver rang the bell, all 10 chimps went back indoors for dinner in their new beautiful home.
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