LOS ANGELES - World-renowned ethologist and activist Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, released a video today announcing her unequivocal support of the Chimpanzees in Need campaign and its efforts to move the 26 chimpanzees remaining at the closed Wildlife Waystation to accredited sanctuaries, including Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Cle Elum, Wash.
“I do hope that you’ll do anything you can to help this campaign,” Goodall implored of the video’s viewers. “So far, (the chimpanzees’) life histories have been tragic. Once they are moved to their new homes, that will change,” she said of the chimps, most of whom were previously used in biomedical research and are now stranded at the closed refuge outside of Los Angeles.
Goodall supports the efforts of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA), which is overseeing the Chimpanzees in Need grassroots fundraising effort that emerged as part of an urgent rescue required to save 42 chimpanzees left in limbo when the Wildlife Waystation closed unexpectedly in 2019.
Twenty-six of the original 42 remain at the Waystation while enough money is raised to fund expansion projects and their long-term care at sanctuaries that have agreed to take them in, including the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Fla.; Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, in Cle Elum, Wash.; and Chimp Haven in Keithville, La.
“I’ve visited these sanctuaries,” Goodall said. “They’ll provide perfect environments where these chimpanzees, who’ve known so much suffering, can live out their lives in peace,” she said, adding that the sanctuaries will keep the established social groups intact.
NAPSA Program Director Erika Fleury said the campaign is grateful for Goodall’s support.
“Many people are working tirelessly to care for these chimpanzees and get them rehomed,” Fleury said. “We are very appreciative of Dr. Goodall’s support in this endeavor. She has a solid understanding of the situation and knows the special care chimpanzees require, which they will receive at the sanctuaries,” Fleury said, adding she also is grateful to Waystation staff members who continue to care for the chimps while funds are being raised.
The once-flourishing Wildlife Waystation was the first of its kind, tending to thousands of animals over its 40-year history. But after years of repeated damage from wildfires and financial challenges, the refuge was forced to close, leaving behind over 480 wild animals, including bears, tigers, lions, monkeys, apes and more.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) stepped in to relocate the animals, and succeeded – except for placing the chimpanzees. These strong, social, and complex primates have unique needs that few places can accommodate. Only a few sanctuaries can provide quality care for chimpanzees, but they were at capacity and construction of additional living spaces is needed for them to accept more individuals into their care.
Most of the chimpanzees began their lives at a private medical research laboratory affiliated with New York University, which is where Goodall said she first encountered many of the chimpanzees.
“I met many of these in the LEMSIP lab and was saddened and angry to see the terrible conditions they suffered there,” Goodall said.
Now their fate is dependent upon the fundraising efforts of the Chimpanzees in Need campaign. The Waystation has an inadequate water source, is perpetually at risk for wildfires and has significant infrastructural repair needs. The chimpanzees cannot stay on site, and so the collaborative campaign is working to rescue and rehome these chimps as quickly as possible.
To learn more about the chimpanzee rescue effort and how to help, visit www.chimpsinneed.org
Click here to see the full video message from Dr. Jane Goodall.