KEITHVILLE, La. (Chimp Haven release)– Chimp Haven has reached an exciting milestone as it makes room for former research chimpanzees still awaiting sanctuary retirement.

Eleven chimpanzees have moved into the first of two new open-air corrals— 15,000 square feet that includes multi-level structures for climbing and play and provides additional flexible space for groups to live at the Louisiana refuge.

The recently-completed corral is one of five new habitats Chimp Haven aims to complete by spring 2020 as part of its $20 million expansion to accommodate more chimpanzees still living in research facilities. As a private, nonprofit sanctuary, its expansion is funded solely by philanthropic contributions and Chimp Haven continues to raise funds for this historic effort.

With care staff watching on, for the first time, five chimps made their way through a chute system from their existing home to the new corral. After exploring, they were joined by the remaining six members of their family group.

“It’s very exciting to see the chimps discover their new space,” said Rana Smith, president and chief executive officer of Chimp Haven. “The move brings us one step closer to our goal of transitioning as many chimpanzees as possible to sanctuary retirement.”

Chimp Haven is now home to nearly 300 chimpanzees, more than any sanctuary of its kind in the world, with more arriving this fall. Soon, chimpanzees will move into the second of the two new open-air corrals and Chimp Haven will continue constructing three new multi-acre forested habitats. This work would not be possible without donations from the public.