Caged chimps find freedom at last

  • 12/09/2016
Caged chimps find freedom at last

Late last year it was announced invasive experiments on chimpanzees in the United States would be outlawed.

Now the last of the primates used for biomedical testing are being re-homed to start a new life.

A 2009 undercover video shot by the Humane Society at the New Iberia Research Center shows workers yank terrified chimps from cages and restrain them for biomedical testing. The facility maintains few of the chimps ever experienced invasive research.

"Some of them have had really, you know, not great things happen to them," says primatologist Jessica Hartel.

Dr Hartel leads a non-profit called Project Chimp.

"They've been used as a tool, a service for human beings, and it's completely unnecessary."

On Wednesday night, Dr Hartel led the first truckload of chimps to leave from Louisiana bound for north Georgia. Nine female chimps arrived in cages - the only habitat they have ever known. Their new home is a converted gorilla sanctuary.

"We were all so excited for them," says Dr Hartel. "Our adrenaline is on high. They're living their life for the first time, really."

Eventually, all 220 of the Louisiana chimps may retire there.

"This marks the end of privately-funded research on chimpanzees in the US and that's a huge deal," says CEO of Project Chimp Sarah Baeckler-Davis.

"This is the happy ending for them," says Ms Baeckler-Davis. "They have 30 to 40 years here to just be chimps."

CBS News