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Chimp Haven set to begin construction on new housing

Chimp Haven

The national chimpanzee sanctuary in Keithville, La., is making accommodations to care for 111 newly-retired government-owned chimps that were used in medical research over the years. To date, Chimp Haven has taken in 50 of the chimps from the New Iberia Research Center. Chimp Haven President Cathy Willis Spraetz said the remaining 61 will not be relocated to the sanctuary until September.

“We will delay the transport of those chimpanzees until the fall because the brutal summer can be really devastating, particularly for an elderly chimpanzee," Spraetz said.

The delay also will give Chimp Haven the ability to complete the new housing construction that is set to begin in a matter of weeks. Spraetz said Chimp Haven has raised all the money for construction, but it’s still halfway through a $5 million capital campaign to cover the long-term expenses of these chimps. She said the government pays about $49 per day for each retired chimp. Her nonprofit must make up the difference. But the federal funding is running dry, unless Congress takes action.

“The cap may be lifted. It is in the president’s budget," Spraetz said. "So, we hope that this will continue because quite frankly these chimpanzees deserve it. They deserve to live in a retirement facility.”

Chimp Haven’s population currently stand at 169. Chimp Haven will hold its next Discovery Day where the public is invited to see the chimps in their sanctuary habitat on Saturday, May 18.

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