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Downton Chimp Retirement

January 20, 2013

Whatever happened to all those chimpanzees raised for medical experiments, to save our human lives? The lucky survivors, that is. Find out from this fascinating story on NPR.

“Our job really is we’re housekeepers, we’re maids, we’re butlers, we’re servants.” That is how the directors of Save the Chimps describe their job.

“Chimps live in small groups on a dozen man-made islands. Each 3-acre grassy island has palm trees and climbing structures, and is surrounded by a moat. This is Save the Chimps, the world’s biggest sanctuary for chimps formerly used in research experiments or the entertainment industry, or as pets. The chimps living here — 266 of them — range in age from 6 years old to over 50. And as sanctuary Director Jen Feuerstein drives around in a golf cart, she recognizes each one.

“”Hey, guys!” she says, pulling up to a small building that serves as the entrance to one island. “This is Luke on the left and Virgil on the right, and then the chimp walking up is Christopher.”” Later, she spots a chimp sitting up in a tree and says it’s Jaybee, a former research chimp who spent years alone in a small cage. She says he “had nothing natural, never went outside, never even saw the sun. So to see him in a tree, munching on leaves, just like a wild chimp would, is pretty amazing.”

But–just like human retirement–it all costs big $$.

“And then there’s the medical care. The sanctuary has a medications room that’s stocked like a full pharmacy, where two women crush pills into plastic bottles, each labeled with a name — so it can get filled with that chimp’s preferred juice or Gatorade. About half the chimps get daily meds for everything from arthritis to heart disease.”

Chimp Social Security and Medicare. But it takes private funding. If you’ve got any stocking change left, donate here.

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