After spending a lifetime in cages, these former lab chimps are finding out what fresh air feels like as they explore the outdoors for the first time.
A group of 15 chimpanzees called and hooted as they took in their new, six-acre outdoor sanctuary, thanks to nonprofit Project Chimps.
The nine females and six males, between the ages of 11 and 27, were rescued after previously having been used in biomedical research in laboratories.
“This was the first time in their lives that these chimpanzees could exercise their free will with regard to their environment,” the rescue’s executive director, Ali Crumpacker, said in a statement. “Imagine never having stepped outside your own home and only knowing carpet or your porch under your feet. That’s what it was like for these chimps.”
Keepers said that while some were eager to explore the forests and grass, others were nervous and clung on to each other or banged on the viewing windows.
But once they became more comfortable in the new environment — with the help of some pomegranates the staff hid around the habitat — the chimps began to forage, just as they would in the wild.
There are 31 chimps living out their days at the Georgia sanctuary after retiring from a life of research. The sanctuary is working to bring more than 180 other chimps as soon as possible.