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Chimpanzee Art Contest Winners Announced

Renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall and public voted on favorite artwork to benefit sanctuaries

  • Brent, a 37-year-old chimpanzee from Chimp Haven won 1st place with his unorthodox painting technique of only using his tongue.   Chimp Haven

Brent, a 37-year-old retired chimpanzee from Chimp Haven in Keithville, La., has won first place in The Humane Society of the United States’ Chimpanzee Art Contest, which featured paintings created by chimpanzees living in sanctuaries throughout the United States and generated more than 27,000 votes. Famed primatologist and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall reviewed the entries and selected a painting by Cheetah as the best in a judged prize category.

The following sanctuaries with the winning chimpanzees will receive grants from The HSUS to help care for chimpanzees retired from research, entertainment and the pet trade:

  • Online voting:
    • 1st place public voting ($10,000): Brent from Chimp Haven in Keithville, La.
    • 2nd place public voting ($5,000): Cheetah from Save the Chimps, Fort Pierce, Fla.
    • 3rd place public voting ($2,500): Ripley from Center for Great Apes, Wauchula, Fla.
  • Dr. Jane Goodall's selection ($5,000): Cheetah from Save the Chimps, Fort Pierce, Fla.

Other entries included artwork by Jamie from Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Cle Elum, Wash., Jenny from Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville, Ky., and Patti from Chimps, Inc. in Bend, Ore. All six sanctuaries will each receive a $500 grant from The HSUS for participating.

Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues at The HSUS said: “We cannot thank these sanctuaries enough for providing their chimpanzee residents with such peaceful and enriching lives. They deserve the public’s support for the amazing work they are doing and will continue to do as hundreds more chimpanzees make their way to retirement after decades in laboratories.”

For the contest, six sanctuary members of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance submitted an original piece of artwork created by one of their resident chimpanzees. Creating artwork is one of many enrichment activities sanctuaries can offer captive chimpanzees. The contest was designed to bring attention to both the great abilities of these chimpanzees and the sanctuaries that care for them.

Dr. Jane Goodall DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace said: “All of the art was beautiful and unique, just like chimpanzees! It was difficult to choose. It’s so important that the public support all of these sanctuaries in their mission to provide exceptional care to chimpanzees, and other primates, who have suffered through so much.”

Dr. Goodall made her selection prior to the online voting. She was provided only with the photos of the paintings and received no identifying information such as the information about the chimpanzee artists or sanctuaries where they reside.

To see all six of the submissions and to learn more about the chimpanzee artists, visit humanesociety.org/chimpart. The paintings will be auctioned on eBay later this year and the proceeds will benefit the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance.


  • The North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance currently has eight member sanctuaries, which are all accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, and collectively provide excellent, lifetime care for nearly 500 chimpanzees retired from research, entertainment and the pet trade. NAPSA’s mission is “to advance the welfare of captive primates through exceptional sanctuary care, collaboration and outreach.” Member sanctuaries include the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, which is operated by The Fund for Animals, an affiliate of The HSUS. 
  • It is estimated that there are more than 1,100 chimpanzees in the United States who currently reside in laboratories, entertainment facilities, private residences, and unaccredited facilities.
  • In June, the National Institutes of Health announced plans to retire nearly 90 percent of the 360 government-owned chimpanzees to sanctuary and significantly decrease chimpanzee research grants.
  • Also in June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a rule to list all chimpanzees as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. If finalized, that proposal is expected to significantly impact the use of chimps for harmful biomedical research, entertainment, and interstate trade as pets. Any use of chimpanzees that would cause harm to the animals would require a permit and FWS would evaluate each permit application individually to determine whether the proposed action would promote conservation of the species, as required by the ESA.

Media Contact: Niki Ianni, 301-548-7793, nianni@humanesociety.org

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