Chimp Haven completes $20 million expansion

Chimp Haven's new expansion from the Welcome Them Home project.
Chimp Haven's new expansion from the Welcome Them Home project.(KARALEE SCOUTEN | Chimp Haven)
Published: Aug. 13, 2022 at 8:49 AM CDT
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KEITHVILLE, La. (KSLA) - After five years, Chimp Haven has finished its Welcome Them Home project, creating play corrals, forest habitats, and additional facilities.

Chimp Haven collected over $20 million dollars in private donations for the project. The new habitats and facilities are needed for an additional 300 former research chimps to live out the rest of their lives in retirement.

“We are overjoyed to have these amazing new spaces to give chimpanzees retired from biomedical research the best lives possible,” said Rana Smith, Chimp Haven president and CEO. “Watching them explore their new homes, meet new friends and enjoy the freedoms of sanctuary is tremendously rewarding. We are grateful to all our supporters who helped make this a reality.”

The $20 million dollar expansion included:

  • 2 new 15,000 square-foot open-air corrals
  • 3 new multi-acre forest habitats
  • Climbing structures, hammocks, and toys to encourage exploration
  • Corresponding climate-controlled bedrooms
  • Dedicated veterinary suites
  • Expanded support facilities
  • 5,000 square-foot commissary with a prep kitchen and food storage facility

Chimp Haven is to welcome 10 chimpanzees from the Wildlife Waystation, Los Angeles, as part of an urgent rescue effort in 2022. The Waystation closed unexpectedly in 2019 and the 10 chimps are among the last of more than 480 animals that were in need of rehoming.

“Each chimpanzee group reacts differently to a new environment,” Smith the Chimp Haven president and CEO said recently after witnessing a group of 14 chimpanzees check out the habitat. “In this cautious group, each chimp took their time to fully investigate their surroundings before jumping in.”

Additionally, human visitors will be able to enjoy a new overlook with an unobstructed view, made possible by the Annenberg Foundation.

“The new Annenberg Pavilion provides phenomenal views of the chimpanzees in a forested habitat that just hasn’t been available until now,” Smith said. “Chimp Haven depends upon the generosity of donors who contribute to the chimpanzees’ care and well-being. Now, when special visitors come to the sanctuary, they can take in the sights from this spectacular vantage point.”

To learn more or to find out how you can visit the sanctuary, visit To take a virtual tour, click here.

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