Chimp Haven

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Chimp Haven, the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Date opened 2005
Location Keithville, Louisiana
 United States
Coordinates 32°15′16.76″N 93°56′12.00″W / 32.2546556°N 93.9366667°W / 32.2546556; -93.9366667Coordinates: 32°15′16.76″N 93°56′12.00″W / 32.2546556°N 93.9366667°W / 32.2546556; -93.9366667
Land area 200 acres
Number of animals >160
Number of species 4 recognised:
troglodytes verus
troglodytes troglodytes
troglodytes schweinfurthii
troglodytes vellerosus
Memberships Association for the Assessment and Accreditation for Laboratory Animal Care, International and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries

Chimp Haven, the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary, is a species-specific facility designed to provide a home for chimpanzees that are retired from invasive biomedical research,the pet trade and entertainment industry. The sanctuary offers an environment that stimulates behaviors similar to those in the wild The 200 acre chimpanzee refuge is located in the Eddie D. Jones Nature Park in Keithville, Louisiana, approximately 22 miles southwest of Shreveport.


In addition to their use as pets and entertainers, captive chimpanzees have served as models for medical research. Anticipating that chimpanzees would be the key to finding answers to some of medicine’s most vexing problems, especially AIDS and hepatitis, the government and private laboratories embarked on aggressive chimpanzee breeding programs in the mid‐1980’s. Yet, a decade later, the experimental use of chimpanzees declined.The result was a large population of chimpanzees in limbo with nowhere to go.

The significant cost of caring for more than 1,000 chimpanzees housed in U.S. research facilities required the development of alternatives to standard laboratory housing for chimpanzees no longer active in research. Concurrent with the plight of the research chimpanzees, hundreds of privately owned chimpanzees who proved unmanageable to keep as pets or performers were also in need of a professionally run facility—a sanctuary.

While the government was recognizing the need for long‐term care for chimpanzees, a philosophically diverse group of individuals representing the primatological, pharmaceutical, animal protection, zoo and business communities was already envisioning the creation of a model sanctuary for retired chimpanzees. The group incorporated as Chimp Haven Inc. in 1995 and proclaimed its mission to:

  • Provide humane care for chimpanzees that have been used for biomedical research, or other purposes, and which are no longer used for those purposes.
  • Provide large, enriched and permanent housing for these animals in accordance with all state and federal regulations pertaining to the care and housing of these nonhuman primates.
  • Provide noninvasive research opportunities on the behavior and biology of chimpanzees and to disseminate this information to others in publicly available formats.
  • Educate the public about these endangered nonhuman primates and the needs for conservation in the wild and protection in captivity

In 1999, Chimp Haven convened a facility design workshop with zoo designers, laboratory architects and field biologists to create a cost‐effective sanctuary that would meet all the special needs of retired chimpanzees. In 2000, the Caddo Parish Commission in Northwest Louisiana donated 200 wooded acres of the Eddie D. Jones Nature Park to Chimp Haven to build the new facility.

At the same time Chimp Haven received its 200 acres, the United States Congress passed the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act. The CHIMP Act authorized the establishment of a sanctuary system for chimpanzees retired from medical research. Congress mandated that the National Institutes of Health implement the CHIMP Act. The Act stipulated that the government would pay 75 percent of the operating cost and 90 percent of the construction funds for the sanctuary system.The organization chosen to run the system would have to raise the remainder of the funding from private sources.

Chimp Haven submitted a competitive proposal to the National Institutes of Health to run the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary System and was awarded the contract in 2002. Construction began in November 2003, and the first chimpanzees arrived at Chimp Haven in April 2005.

The second phase of the facility began in November 2004, but could only be partially completed in April 2006 because of escalating construction costs in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. As a result, six outdoor chimpanzee play yards remained incomplete until funds were secured in 2013. These play yards, an over-sized play ground and additional bedrooms will be completed in 2013.

Present day[edit]

Since 2005, 231 chimpanzees have found a home at Chimp Haven. Of the 164 currently living at Chimp Haven, 150 are retired from government research. The remaining chimpanzees were privately owned before arriving at Chimp Haven.

To fulfill its mission of educating the public about these endangered nonhuman primates and the needs for conservation in the wild and protection in captivity, Chimp Haven has established several educational programs including: Chimpanzee Discovery Days, Classrooms that Care, Chimp Chat and Chew and Chimp Chat and Chew – The Morning Edition. The sanctuary also hosts veterinary, behavioral, animal care and organizational development interns throughout the year.

Chimp Haven operates under strict standards of care that were especially created for the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary by the National Institutes of Health. Chimp Haven is the only sanctuary accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Care (AALAC). Many of the sanctuary’s best practices have been adopted by other sanctuaries and zoological facilities.


On October 30, 2013, the United States Senate passed the CHIMP Act Amendments of 2013 (S. 1561; 113th Congress), a bill that, if enacted, would allow the National Institutes of Health to spend additional money on housing retired chimpanzees at Chimp Haven.[1][2]


  1. ^ Rossoll, Nicki (29 October 2013). "Why Congress Won't Let 60 Chimps Retire". ABC News. Retrieved 31 October 2013. 
  2. ^ "S. 1561 - All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 31 October 2013. 

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