9 Former Lab Chimps Become First to Call New Sanctuary Home: 'This Is Their Time to Live'
After living their entire lives in research labs, these nine chimpanzees have become the first to call a Georgia sanctuary their new home.
Project Chimps, a new animal sanctuary located in northern Georgia, welcomed the first batch of research chimpanzees to their sanctuary Thursday afternoon.
"This is their time to live," sanctuary director Sarah Baeckler Davis told InsideEdition.com. "It'll be a whole new world for them here."
The nine chimpanzees were once test subjects at the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana, according to the sanctuary's press statement. They will now be given the freedom to "make their own choices about how they'll spend their day," Baeckler Davis said.
After a quarantine period, the chimpanzees will be able to play with new objects and socialize with other chimps, a vast difference from their previous life.
Some may even be experiencing grass and dirt for the first time, she said.
"In general, chimps are used in human health research," Baeckler Davis told InsideEdition.com. "They have given their lives for us and our health, and now is their time to be chimpanzees and retire here."
The decision comes after the chimps were declared an endangered species, and animal rights activists have started questioning the ethics of animal research.
Baeckler Davis has called it "the beginning of the end for this industry."
While only nine have arrived so far, Baeckler Davis said they are ready to welcome up to 80 chimpanzees within the next year, depending on how each group settles in.
Ultimately, she said the non-profit expects to house up to 250 chimpanzees, which will be made possible through further fundraising and outreach efforts.