8 Rescue Chimps Take 2,600-Mile Trip to Reach the Safety of Their New Florida Sanctuary Home

The Chimpanzees in Need campaign, supported by Dr. Jane Goodall, is working to find homes for all of the chimpanzees residing at the now-closed Wildlife Waystation in Los Angeles

rescue chimps
Photo: Chimpanzees in Need/Center for Great Apes

After spending years in limbo, eight rescue chimps have a forever home.

According to a release from the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance's (NAPSA), Chimpanzees in Need campaign, before moving into Florida's Center for Great Apes, the primates resided at a wildlife refuge in California called Wildlife Waystation. Unfortunately, the refuge closed unexpectedly over two years ago due to financial difficulties.

The eight chimps stayed at the shutdown refuge until, with help from Dr. Jane Goodall, Chimpanzees in Need's fundraising effort received enough donations to cover the eight primates' 2,600-mile trip to the Center for Great Apes.

The animals left from Wildlife Waystation near Los Angeles and traversed the thousands of miles to Florida in comfort, riding in a specialized transport vehicle provided by Project Chimps. A vet team made the journey with the chimpanzees to ensure the primates stayed happy and healthy.

All of the chimpanzees — Billy, Ewok, Josh, Maude, Sabina, Mystery, Sha Sha, and Jeeter — arrived at the Center for Great Apes right before Thanksgiving.

rescue chimps
Chimpanzees in Need/Center for Great Apes

"We're so happy to have them here, and they are settling in nicely to their new home," Patti Ragan, the Florida sanctuary's founder and president, said in a statement.

To respect the strong social bonds between the chimps from Wildlife Waystation, the Center for Great Apes will keep the primates grouped together, with one exception. New arrival Jeeter had trouble making friends at his previous home because he was kept as a pet by his previous owner before arriving there. The Center for Great Apes is optimistic that Jeeter will find his own family at their sanctuary because it is home to several other primates raised as pets.

"At Center for Great Apes, which specializes in helping chimpanzees and orangutans who have been humanized as former pets or entertainers, the staff has been hard at work putting all of the pieces in place so that Jeeter will have a better opportunity to be integrated into a social group," Fleury said. "Many of the chimpanzees already living at the accredited sanctuary are former 'pets,' just like him!" Erika Fleury, the program director for NAPSA, which is leading the fundraising effort to rehome the Wildlife Waystation chimpanzees, said.

rescue chimps
Chimpanzees in Need/Center for Great Apes

Now that these eight chimpanzees have found a place to call home forever, NAPSA and their Chimpanzees in Need campaign are focused on finding permanent homes for the 18 chimpanzees remaining at the shuttered Wildlife Waystation.

"The chimpanzees who are left at the closed Wildlife Waystation are in desperate need of rehoming," Dr. Goodall shared in a statement. "We have reputable sanctuaries that are able to care for them, but need funding to build new enclosures. On behalf of these chimpanzees who may live many more years, please help by supporting this emergency rescue effort."

To learn more about the Chimpanzees in Need campaign set up to save the chimps of Wildlife Waystation and support the effort, visit the campaign's website.

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