Project Chimps is an independent sanctuary dedicated to providing lifetime care to chimpanzees who have spent most of their lives in research laboratories. The Humane Society of the United States provides funding to Project Chimps to help support its work, which helped enable our own successful quest to end the use of chimpanzees in research by providing a safe and caring environment for retired laboratory chimps. Out of commitment to the sanctuary’s mission, several HSUS staff members—including one with extensive primate experience—also serve on the board of Project Chimps.
We demand the best from any sanctuaries that we support financially and Project Chimps is no exception. While this sanctuary has consistently satisfied our requirements to meet high standards of care, we follow up on any serious concern that is brought to our attention.
We are aware of allegations made against the sanctuary. Our understanding is that the staff at Project Chimps—as well as outside experts, including experienced chimpanzee veterinarians—have reviewed the concerns brought to their attention, found them to be largely unsupported and have confirmed that the chimpanzees are getting appropriate care. A USDA inspection in January 2020 also found no areas of non-compliance.
Additionally, the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), a sanctuary accrediting body, recently carried out a formal site visit at Project Chimps. GFAS has made some recommendations, which Project Chimps has implemented or is in the process of implementing. Those include:
- Contracting with a vet, in addition to the existing veterinarian, who has extensive chimpanzee experience to review specific medical cases and carry out an in-person assessment of all chimpanzees. (Note: The contracting veterinarian concluded that all chimpanzees were in good health.)
- Adding a cover sheet to each chimpanzee’s medical file highlighting the information contained within it.
- Prioritizing the development of standard operating procedures that focus on issues such as health assessment, body condition scoring, monthly weight monitoring and fecal collection.
- Implementing a planned schedule for providing physical enrichment items to ensure the rotation of those items.
- Prioritizing the addition of certain features of the already-planned installation of new climbing structures, including low platforms.
- Ensuring a trained spotter is present and observing when another trained staff member enters the zone closest to the chimpanzee enclosure.
- Renewing the search to fill a position that focuses on behavioral needs and/or enrichment for the chimpanzees.
Project Chimps remains accredited and we were pleased to see that Project Chimps will have all the recommended upgrades in place by August 1.