Chimps held captive for experiments given new lease of life

Georgia [USA], Feb 9 (ANI): A video of chimps that were held captive for research experiments being set free out in the open has melted several hearts on the internet.

The heartwarming footage -- according to the New York Post -- shows a group of chimpanzees venturing out in a sanctuary in Georgia, US, after decades of confinement in labs across the country.

The primates belong to the latest batch introduced to Project Chimps from Louisiana's New Iberia Research Center (NIRC), which was home to the largest number of privately owned chimps in the US.

The animal welfare project has been endorsed by some big names such as Green Day lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, Judy Greer, Rachael Ray, and tattoo artist Kat Von D.

Ali Crumpacker -- the executive director of Project Chimps -- told New York Post: "Twenty former research chimpanzees just arrived from the lab (NIRC) in November."

Before their final release, the chimps were monitored for a period of one month.

The chimps seemed awestruck upon their release and some of them began to climb up on posts to explore the world around them. Meanwhile, a few shy ones went back inside their cages.

The Project Chimp facility is spread over 236 acres in Blue Ridge Mountains in the state of Georgia.

"When the federal government ended the use of chimpanzees in invasive medical research, nearly 700 chimps around the US needed a forever home," Crumpacker told New York Post.

"Those in government-funded studies could go to Chimp Haven, a sanctuary designated for government research chimps. Hundreds had no place to go, so our founders negotiated an agreement with the lab that had the largest population of research chimps in one place: the New Iberia Research Center. We bought the former gorilla sanctuary in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia in 2015, in anticipation of the federal government's decision to end testing on chimps, and welcomed our first residents -- nine females -- in September 2016."

He further said: "We now have 79 chimpanzees in residence and our first phase, a refurbished former gorilla sanctuary -- will be able to hold up to 100."

Though "nearly 130 (more chimpanzees) are waiting in the lab. We hope to bring 10-20 more in 2020. To bring the remaining chimps, we need to build the second phase of our sanctuary, with new chimp houses and companion outdoor habitats."

All the primates who received this new lease of life were born in captivity. (ANI)