It's taken a year and a half of planning, fundraising, and traveling, but all 110 federally-owned chimpanzees formerly used for research at the New Iberia Research Center have now been retired to Chimp Haven in Keithville.  

Chimp Haven is the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary -- so-designated by the CHIMP Act which was signed into law in 2000 and reauthorized in 2013.

The campaign to bring the chimpanzees from the south Louisiana laboratory to Chimp Haven began in November 2012 when the National Institutes of Health determined that
they be retired. Initially, plans were made to only send 10 to the Keithville sanctuary and the remainder to a laboratory in Texas.

Immediately, the 200 acre sanctuary launched "Road to Chimp Haven," a $5 million campaign that would cover needed construction and care for the incoming chimpanzees. Organizations such as The New England Antivivisection Society, The Humane Society of the United States, The National Antivivisection Society and The American Antivivisection Society made significant donations. Animal activists Bob Barker and Anita Hirsh each made $1 million contributions toward construction of the play areas and bedrooms.

Since the start of construction last year, six play areas have been completed which has enabled the sanctuary to complete the transitioning phase for the chimpanzees. Currently, several bedrooms and one large open playground are nearing completion which will allow more room for future growth.

“Because of the generosity of our donors, we have made great strides for these beautiful animals,” said Chimp Haven President Cathy Willis Spraetz.  “However, the public’s help is needed to close the $2 million funding gap that still remains and must be earmarked for their daily care for the remainder of their lives.” Spraetz tells KEEL News it costs about $5500 per chimp per year to provide that care.

For more information on Chimp Haven, visit