Television celebrity Bob Barker has come to the rescue of five chimpanzees in Texas who need a permanent home. Upon hearing about the plight of the chimpanzees left behind in a facility that has gone bankrupt, Barker made a contribution of $230,000 to Chimp Haven to begin building bedrooms and a habitat for them.
He is also underwriting the cost of their care for one year. Barker’s donation provides immediate relief for the Texas chimpanzees, and it launches Chimp Haven’s plan to expand its accommodations for non-government supported chimpanzees who need homes. Chimp Haven President, Dr. Linda Brent, says, “I hope Mr. Barker’s generous gesture will inspire others to follow his example so that we can complete this project and bring more chimpanzees to Chimp Haven.” The core construction to provide immediate refuge to the five chimpanzees is estimated to cost $170,000, but a minimum of an additional $200,000 is needed to complete the overall project.
“These chimpanzees have spent their entire lives on concrete in cages,” said Barker. “They will now be able to climb and swing and hoot through the forest-like surroundings of Chimp Haven. They are curious and smart and are expected to adapt well to their new surroundings.”
Barker believes that Chimp Haven represents the foundation for a model chimpanzee sanctuary. Its strategic plan includes expansion to be able to care for more chimpanzees who need help. Barker’s funding will allow it to begin enlarging its facility to meet that need. He encourages others to respond to the urgency of this situation and help as well.
Chimp Haven is comprised of 200 acres of forest-like surroundings which will allow the chimpanzees to live as if in the wild, with minimal human contact. A key component of Chimp Haven’s program is to educate the public about endangered nonhuman primates and their needs for conservation in the wild and protection in captivity.
It is estimated that there are more than 1,000 chimpanzees in U.S. research facilities. There are also hundreds of privately owned chimpanzees who are considered unmanageable to keep as pets or performers who are also in need of a professionally run sanctuary.
Chimp Haven, The National Chimpanzee Sanctuary, is an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide a permanent retirement sanctuary for chimpanzees no longer used for biomedical research, entertainment, or as pets. Located 25 miles southwest of Shreveport, La. in the Eddie D. Jones Nature Park in Caddo Parish, Chimp Haven opened its doors in Phase I to the first residents in April 2005. The sanctuary is now home to 129 retired chimpanzees.