Over the weekend, Patrick & I ventured out to Chimp Haven for one of the facility’s biannual discovery days. Despite being located so close to my home, I had never made it out to tour the facility. Chimp Haven was founded in 1995 in order to respond to the need for long term chimpanzee care and rehabilitation. They house over 200 chimpanzees no longer used in biomedical research, the entertainment industry or the pet trade. It broke my heart to hear that many of the animals had never lived outside of a cage or seen the sky unobstructed by bars.
We arrived just in time to see the group of young chimpanzees make their way into the wooded habitat for a day of play & scavenging. The facility is set on a large nature park, with a combination of man-made & natural barriers. Natural ground cover & trees provide the chimps with opportunities to nest & climb, while play structures & man-made termite mounds provide extra opportunities.
We started with a walk along the moat, which forms a barrier between the habitats & visitors for an unobstructed view of each group. It was amazing to see the animals in such an nonrestrictive environment, where they choose how to spend their time.
A highlight of the visit was a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility. We rode through the more secluded play areas & visited with staff. We learned about the diet that the chimps receive, much of which is grown on the facility. We watched as staff played games with the chimps & demonstrated the training program used to get the chimps ready for their new environment.
The staff works hard to ensure that the chimps are given a naturally stimulating environment to keep them happy & safe. The organization includes administrative support; husbandry and veterinary care; chimpanzee behavior, observational research and enrichment; education and facilities and grounds maintenance. Part of the training program is designed to help the animals assist staff when evaluations or medical treatment is needed, so that the chimps are used to interacting with staff in a non-threatening, low stress way. The chimps learn their body parts &, through positive reinforcement, can show staff an injured area for evaluation without the necessity of sedation.
The facility is also home to a beautiful nature trail, which we couldn’t resist. There are also longer trails for hiking, biking, & horseback riding on the nature park that serves as Chimp Haven’s home.
A plaid button-down is a wardrobe classic & pairs perfectly with crisp shorts for a morning outdoors! I got this tan cross-body several years ago for a cruise & I use it year-round. It’s big enough to hold the essentials, but still small enough to keep out of the way. I probably should have worn sneakers for the nature trail, but these sandals worked out just fine.
Shirt: Treasure & Bond, similar here, here, & here // Shorts: New York & Co (buy one, get one 50% off), similar here // Sandals: Michael Kors, similar here, here, & here // Crossbody: Coach, similar here // Sunnies: BCBG, similar here