More than three years after Wildlife Waystation closed abruptly in the Angeles National Forest, the last of several dozen stranded chimpanzees have finally found a permanent home outside of California.
A team of wildlife experts recently transported the last 10 chimpanzees from the shuttered Wildlife Waystation facility in Sylmar, California, to Keithville, Louisiana – the site of the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary, Chimp Haven, according to the fundraising effort, Chimpanzees in Need.
The chimps, dubbed the Treetop Ten, will live out their days among hundreds of other chimps in the sanctuary’s pine forest. Most of the primates were retired from biomedical research or the entertainment industry.
“It was a long trip from central California to Louisiana, but the chimpanzees were comforted by their soft fleece travel blankets and the attentive veterinary and care-team who monitored them closely along the entire route,” said Dr. Raven Jackson, Chimp Haven’s director of Veterinary Care, in a news release. “All 10 arrived safely at Chimp Haven and are getting settled into their new surroundings.”
Chimp Haven produced a short video chronicling their 1,600-mile journey.
The rescue was supported by a $4 million fundraising effort led by the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance.
“We’ve been working tirelessly for three years to rescue the chimps impacted by the closure of the Wildlife Waystation, and I’m ecstatic that the final moves to the sanctuary have been done,” said NAPSA program director Erika Fleury. “This holiday season we have so much to be grateful for, and top of the list is that 10 chimpanzees will be spending it enjoying one of the best sanctuaries in the world.”
Fleury said the need for funds is ongoing and they are still soliciting donations.
More than 500 exotic animals were initially stranded when Wildlife Waystation closed in 2019 amid financial troubles and damage caused by a 2017 flood, officials said. The rest of the animals were relocated with the help of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.