This is at once heartening, and sad. It’s a shame to think some of these animals have lived their entire lives so far without touching the ground, or seeing the sky. Their reactions at seeing the natural world make an animal lover want to shed a tear.
In January, a new group of medical-research chimpanzees began arriving at a retirement home in Louisiana called Chimp Haven. Before their arrival, the chimps had been housed at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s New Iberia Research Center, a primate research facility that had been in trouble for illegal chimp breeding and Animal Welfare Act violations.
After a period of quarantine at Chimp Haven, the chimps are being released into their new habitat, and video footage has captured a few of those moments.
Many chimps stepping onto the grass had never before seen the sky, or walked on natural ground. Now, these retired lab animals will get to just be chimps, grooming one another and learning dominance hierarchies, without bars between them.
“To witness chimps coming out into the natural habitat after seeing what they’ve been exposed to in the past is rewarding beyond anything that I can say,” Chimp Haven’s Kathleen Taylor said in the video.
A total of 110 chimpanzees from New Iberia will be retired to Chimp Haven, the result of an ongoing National Institutes of Health review of chimp research. If the NIH decides to retire all its chimps, another 450 may make their way from laboratory confines to open, grassy sanctuaries where they can live more-natural lives.
Read more at Wired