Photo: Project Chimps

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you open to the public?

Project Chimps is not currently open to the public, but we hope to eventually offer scheduled private educational tours and special visit days throughout the year. Please sign up for our e-newsletter to receive information about when these opportunities to visit the sanctuary become available. We look forward to meeting you!

Why were the chimpanzees used in biomedical research?

Starting in the 1920s, thousands of chimpanzees were taken from the wild and bred in captivity for use in biomedical and other types of invasive research in the United States. Chimpanzees and humans are nearly 99% genetically identical and were considered to be ideal models for humans in research. However, eventually the scientific community reached consensus that chimpanzee research was no longer necessary, and in 2013 the U.S. government formally agreed, ending funding for the majority of invasive experiments on chimpanzees. Since then, laboratories have been working to retire their lab chimps, including private labs like the New Iberia Research Center at the University of Louisiana, which made the admirable decision to retire its chimpanzees to the Project Chimps sanctuary.

Why can’t the chimpanzees be returned to their natural habitats in Africa?

Chimpanzees belong in the wild, and we wish that it were possible for all chimpanzees to live freely, but unfortunately it’s not a viable option for captive chimpanzees in the United States. Chimpanzees raised in captivity simply don’t have the survival skills necessary to live in the wild. We strive to provide them with the next best thing, which is an enriching, naturalistic captive environment, with ample opportunities to engage in natural behaviors as they would in the wild.

Chimpanzees are cute! Do they make good pets?

Absolutely not! Chimpanzees are wild animals who require professional care to meet their complex physical, social and psychological needs – they are not “pets.” They are indeed adorable as babies, but when they reach adolescence, at around 7-8 years old, chimps become very strong and their behavior becomes unpredictable, making them dangerous to humans and unmanageable in a human home. When they reach this point, chimp “pet” owners often cage them full-time in substandard conditions like basements, garages, or backyards, because they can no longer be free in the house. Chimps can live into their 40s, so when they outgrow their owners, they still have a long life ahead of them and require intensive daily care and the company of other chimpanzees. Having spent the early part of their life with humans, “pet” chimpanzees often identify inappropriately with humans and have trouble integrating into social groups if they are fortunate enough to be moved to a sanctuary or zoo. Sadly, their entire life is negatively affected by the few short years of being kept as a “pet” for human amusement. For these reasons, Project Chimps is firmly opposed to the private ownership of chimpanzees and other non-human primates.

May I volunteer or intern at the sanctuary?

Project Chimps is in the process of developing a volunteer program and we have some exciting and fun opportunities for people who are interested in getting involved. To learn about our volunteer program, please email us at volunteer@projectchimps.org. We don’t have an internship program at this time, but please check back in the future for updates.

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