Check out this incredibly moving video of some retired lab chimps experiencing grass, sunlight, trees and open space for the first time in a very long time. These creatures had been lab chimps, used for government biomedical testing but a recommendation from the National Institutes of Health said that 401 of the 451 chimpanzees currently being held for testing should be retired, so many were released to enjoy their retirement at the animal sanctuary Chimp Haven.
The Institutes recommendation came about after a 2011 report that stated that the majority of the research and testing currently being carried out on lab chimps was unnecessary. The $30 million government spending cap on chimpanzee research was also a contributing factor to their release.
Just recently, 111 lab chimps where taken to Chimp Haven, a nonprofit sanctuary that covers 200 acres of land near Keithville, Louisiana. They represent the largest number of chimps ever to be retired from government research and their arrival doubles the current population of chimps at the sanctuary.
Some of the chimps taken to Chimp Haven have been caged and behind bars for almost fifty years, during which time they never got to feel grass under their feet, feel the sunlight on their faces, climb trees or interact with other chimps.
Slowly these creatures will get used to their new home, which is a similar environment to that which their natural habitat. They will form bonds with one another, establish a group hierarchy and get to be free as nature intended.
Warning: Make sure you have the tissue box handy when you watch this video from The Humane Society of the United States, seeing these chimps experience freedom and explore their surroundings for the first time is totally heart-wrenching.