Eight chimpanzees that were living at the now-closed Wildlife Waystation wild animal sanctuary near Los Angeles have been moved to the Center for Great Apes in Florida. The animals were part of a group of nearly 500 wild animals (including 42 chimpanzees) that were left in need of new homes after the Wildlife Waystation closed in August 2019. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) assumed operation of the facility while efforts began to relocate the bears, tigers, lions and other animals in trusted sanctuaries around the country.
Last summer, six of the chimps were successfully moved to the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Central Washington. The eight that were moved recently have waited more than two years to find a permanent home. The cost of care and availability of structures has made rehoming the chimps a difficult process.
“Typically, CDFW does not get involved in activities like this. But this was an extreme case of a large facility that could not care for its own animals, so we had to step in when no one else would,” said CDFW South Coast Regional Manager Ed Pert. “We are moving as quickly and efficiently as possible, but it turns out chimps are difficult to rehome, so we are working with some accredited chimp sanctuaries to help them build new facilities. Finding appropriate, permanent homes for these animals is a long and careful process.”
Of the original 42 chimps at the Wildlife Waystation, 24 have now been permanently placed at permitted facilities that will be able to care for them for the rest of their lives. Fundraising efforts through the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) continue to help other facilities around the country build new structures to take on the 18 chimps that remain at the Wildlife Waystation. The rescue effort under the direction of NAPSA has been fully endorsed by Dr. Jane Goodall, a highly respected leader and activist in chimp care and research.
Project Chimps, a sanctuary in Blue Ridge, Georgia, donated a specialized transport trailer and staff to make the recent move happen quickly and safely. They provided assistance for previous transportation efforts as well.
“We have been very fortunate in finding experts in chimp behavior and chimp sanctuaries, and they’ve been working closely with us and guiding us in finding the right places for these chimps to make their forever home,” said Pert. “We’re getting closer with every one of these moves and it feels like we’re getting the momentum we need to finish the job.”