Today we are excited to share a blog from NEAVS partner Ali Crumpacker, Executive Director, Project Chimps.
Last year I shared with you a little bit about one special chimp living here at Project Chimps named Emma. Since then, Emma’s family has grown! She has met…males!
Emma was always a bit of a loner, so it’s been a very positive development now that she’s living in an integrated group of 15 males and females. She has met male chimps that share her personality characteristics!
When the males and females were first introduced, 14-year-old Emma seemed to take a shining to 15-year-old Jason, and visa-versa. Since then, she’s expanded her social horizons. Recently, she was playing in an outdoor hammock with Jabari and she now engages in grooming sessions with other males in the group too.
That’s a positive trend for the chimp who frequently sat alone at the sanctuary, rocking back and forth with anxiety. One of our board members, Katie Conlee, recalls meeting Emma at a lab in Maryland when the chimp was very young and Katie was collecting evidence to fight to end testing on all chimpanzees, a fight that was won thanks to the efforts of NEAVS and other animal welfare advocacy organizations.
Katie recalls meeting Emma – who was probably only two years old - because she was in a small cage and rocking back and forth, the same rocking she still does today when she is stressed.
Her rocking behavior is subsiding because Emma is one of the lucky chimps. In 2016, she was among the first group to be transferred from the lab to permanent sanctuary here at Project Chimps. Emma now enjoys a daily diet of healthy, fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds along with daily enrichment activities to keep this intelligent chimpanzee challenged and engaged. She is very smart and our caregiver team has a difficult time creating puzzles and games hard enough for her. She’s always one of the very first to figure them out!
To date, 60 chimpanzees have retired to our 236-acre property in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but nearly 150 still await their turn. My team is now designing a second phase that will include two more habitats to house all of the chimps that are still waiting.
I am grateful for our partners, like NEAVS, who are working to support the sanctuary’s expansion and continued operations for Emma and other deserving chimpanzees like her. And to supporters like you who follow our journey and help us provide exemplary care for the chimps.
With all of us working together, Emma will be able to live as much as she might have, had she been born in the wild: climbing trees, foraging outdoors for food, and lounging in the sun on warm summer days.
Project Chimps celebrated the fifth anniversary of its founding on June 3, 2019. We invite you to join NEAVS in supporting Emma and the other former research chimps.