The building we were in is a brand-new, state-of-the-art structure named the Laurie and Carlee McGrath Chateau, after the two generous donors whose funding and support made it possible, and it is the fifth and largest chimpanzee house at the sanctuary, with room for 40 chimpanzees. There are already 14 residents at the Chateau and, contrary to what I had expected, they were an incredibly patient lot at dinnertime. At home, mealtimes with my dog Lilly and cats Misti and Storm are an enthusiastic affair, so I assumed there would be lots of jockeying among the chimpanzees for the best position, and some pushing. Instead, the animals waited calmly for their turn, apparently aware of the order and pace of the caretakers serving their meal. They didn’t all clamor to the front of their enclosures, and even appeared to know who got what and when. When dinner—nutritional biscuits, vegetables, fruits and a frozen pumpkin smoothie for dessert–was served, they ate quietly and happily.
We toured the sanctuary, which opened five years ago, and its many facilities designed with the comfort and care of its very special residents in mind. There’s the six-acre Peachtree Habitat, a lush, forested area with no caging overhead, where the chimpanzees can forage, climb and play, exactly like they would in the wild. They spend their time eating, laying in the sun and sleeping. At the sanctuary’s veterinary hospital, staff and volunteers conduct careful scientific observations of the chimpanzees to monitor their behavior and use of the enrichment tools offered, and also work to promote the animals’ successful social integration.
It was with a heavy but full heart that I said goodbye to the beautiful animals of Project Chimps this afternoon. There are lots of plans for the sanctuary in coming years, and already I am looking forward to my next visit. A second phase expansion to build new chimpanzee habitats and housing from the ground up is now underway. As we work toward our shared goal of retiring all 200 chimpanzees at NIRC to Project Chimps, we continue to look forward to your enthusiastic support and commitment to help make this important dream come true.请慷慨解囊这些动物，这样他们就可以花自己的余生在和平和舒适性，远远没有一个研究实验室的恐惧和生命的记忆。