Former lab chimpanzees try watermelon for the first time and discover some of life's other pleasures!
Imagine living the majority of your life in a cage, then being released into the ‘real world’. You’d have to learn how to fit in with the rest of society, as well as enjoy the relative freedoms most people take for granted each day. Simple wonders, such as trying new foods, would blow your mind, as would being able to venture anywhere you desire.
This scenario is pretty similar to what a group of chimpanzees are experiencing. Recently, nine of them were released from a laboratory at the University of Louisiana. After years of criticism, the New Iberia Research Center decided to end its chimp research program. The fortunate chimps that were transferred to a retirement sanctuary in Georgia, are but 211 who will be re-homed over the next few months, thanks to Project Chimps.
The re-homing effort will be the largest in history, which is something to celebrate. Sarah Baeckler Davis, president of Project Chimps, said in a statement last spring:
“We’re making history here. It’s an unprecedented collaboration and a momentous occasion for chimpanzees.”
Over the past few weeks, the first group has been learning how to enjoy life outside of a lab. Their days are spent exploring their new home and trying all sorts of new things, as The Dodo reports. One recent adventure was trying watermelon.
As you can view below, the chimps were very kind to each other as they dug into the luscious fruit. Their carers wrote on Facebook:
“They were all so polite with each other and shared the watermelon.”
Undoubtedly, more videos like this one will be released as other chimps from the research facility are transferred to sanctuaries and be able to try new experiences. According to Davis, many of the chimps were born in a lab, but some of the older “grandmas and grandpas” were likely taken from the wild.
“It’s a whole new world for these guys,” she says.
Though this video is heartwarming to watch, it serves as a powerful reminder of how much the chimps have missed living inside a lab. Because animal testing is hardly necessary nowadays, one might hope that more chimpanzees are afforded similar freedoms in the near future.
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