LOS ANGELES - On the first-ever World Chimpanzee Day, dozens of local chimpanzees are in desperate need of help.
California Department of Fish & Wildlife has found new sanctuaries for the chimpanzees after the Wildlife Waystation in the Angeles National Forest in Sylmar shut down last year.
But the facilities need financial assistance to be able to feed and house the endangered primates.
California Fish & Wildlife found homes for the lions, tigers, bears and other nearly 500 exotic animals when the Waystation closed in August after 40 years.
It was the first of its kind on the planet. But 32 chimps are still living there, waiting for their new homes. They came from testing laboratories, private owners, and the entertainment industry.
“Thankfully we are seeing a shift in Hollywood and in the entertainment industry with relying on live animals less and relying more on computer-generated imagery (CGI),” says North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) Program Director Erika Fleury.
“I think movies like, The Jungle Book and some real money-making hits have proven that this is feasible and practical for everyone. It’s safer for the animals and the handlers and the actors on set.”
Only four trusted facilities in the country are willing and able to expand their sanctuaries to care for these endangered creatures that are human’s closest cousin with 99% of our same DNA.
The new sanctuaries are in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Washington.
NAPSA, a coalition of nine of the leading primate sanctuaries, is helping California Fish & Wildlife and 7th Generation Advisors spearhead a fundraising effort.
They need a total of $9.7 million to be able to feed the chimpanzees while they’re still at the Waystation, expand facilities at the new sanctuaries and feed the chimps at their new homes for the first year.
“That funding is what it will take to get these chimps out and set in trusted facilities that are not going to fold next year,” says Fleury, whose company is in charge of fundraising efforts. “This is a long-term solution, but we need help to get there. It’s just the step of getting from here to there and then those chimps are safe.”
“We have an obligation to each other and to future generations to leave the world better than we found it,” says 7th Generation Advisors President Terry Tamminen, whose company is helping the fundraiser pro bono.
“Humans put these chimps in harm’s way in the first place, robbing them of a healthy, happy, fulfilling natural life and we’re the only ones who can right that profound wrong.”
If you would like to help, you can donate at: www.primatesanctuaries.org/chimps-in-need