Human Interest

Video shows 28-year-old chimp’s amazement, joy at being outdoors for 1st time

Miami, Jun 28 (EFE).- A Florida sanctuary celebrated the much-improved quality of life of a 28-year-old chimpanzee with a heartwarming video that captures her astonishment and joy at being outdoors for the first time in her life.

The chimpanzee spent her early months in a biomedical research laboratory in New York state and continued to live in a cage with no view of the sky even after being transferred to an animal refuge in California at around the age of two.

The footage shows Vanilla, who underwent an acclimation period after arriving at the Save the Chimps facility in Fort Pierce, Florida, in July 2022, stepping out of an enclosure.

Vanilla first hugs and receives encouragement from another rescued chimp and then raises her head to the sky with a look of equal parts amazement and happiness.

A total of 226 chimpanzees live at the privately funded sanctuary featuring separate three-acre (300-square-meter) island homes for the chimps, which share 98.6 percent of their DNA with human beings.

After being subjected to a variety of experiments at the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP) in Tuxedo, New York, Vanilla was transferred to an animal refuge in Southern California known as the Wildlife Waystation.

Vanilla had no grass at that refuge and she did not leave her cage until achieving her freedom when that facility closed in 2019, Dan Mathews, Save the Chimps’ events and special projects director, told Efe.

Most of the animals at the Florida sanctuary formerly lived in laboratories, where they were used to test medicines and treatments, while some had been made to work in the entertainment industry and others had been pets.

Founded by primatologist Carole Noon in 1997 and located on a 60.7-hectare (150-acre) rural area of Fort Pierce, a city located about 205 kilometers (125 miles) north of Miami, the reserve consists of 12 three-acre islands where the chimps can roam, bask in the sun or curl up in the shade.

Vanilla now lives among a large group on one of those islands, each of whose specific inhabitants are chosen by specialists based on a range of criteria. EFE


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