Male and female chimps reunited

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The Greatest Gift for Chimps

Project Chimps is growing right before my eyes. With 59 chimpanzees now in residence, all four of our villas are now occupied by groups of males and females!

This intentional arrangement will allow the chimps to be slowly introduced to one another over time.

Our chimpanzee behavior team, led by our Manager of Socialization, Michael Seres, is working to integrate the groups in Cedar Tree Villa and Chimps Ahoy Villa and this past week Cedar Tree became fully integrated! You can read more about that in the feature story below.

The gift of socialization is one we can easily give to the chimps. In fact, it’s the best gift we can give them. Sure, they get lots of yummy foods, special treats, the enrichment toys we receive from you, and of course plenty of choices throughout their day to explore the forest or stay inside and build a nest. But chimpanzees are social creatures and, as such, should be able to engage with members of the opposite sex.

Some of the older chimps had this experience before they were separated into same-sex groups at the lab. The younger ones have no memory of this experience and it’s all new. Every detail of it is new.

Lower-ranking Lance, right, recently met alpha female Latricia in a one-on-one session supervised by Michael Seres, Project Chimps Manager of Chimpanzee Socialization. 
The gift we offer the chimps is reassurance, built from trust. It’s the reassurance that we will keep them safe as they meet another new chimp. Some chimps are confident and others are anxious. Some are bold and others are shy. As the introductions proceed, the behavior team identifies what kind of support each chimp needs – and they give it willingly.

We could not provide this level of exemplary care without the support of our volunteers and our donors. Allowing the staff to provide individualized attention to the chimps during intro trials, and to go at the pace the chimps want to go, requires a lot of human resources.

Our 2019 Strategic Plan outlines how we will allocate those resources and achieve our goal of creating a fission-fusion society to the societal structure chimpanzees enjoy in the wild. We look forward to sharing that plan with you in the new year.

This holiday season, I thank YOU for the gift you have given us – your support and devotion to these chimpanzees that have given us so very much. It’s their time to build a community, to make new friends, to create a family. It’s their time to live.

You have given us this opportunity so we can pass it along to them. You have given us time – and that is the greatest gift of all.

With warmest regards,

Ali Crumpacker
Executive Director

Make a Tax-Deductible, Year-End Gift for the Chimps

When you donate to Project Chimps, you’re not only supporting the chimpanzees’ current care, you’re helping us invest in their futures. We invite you to make a tax-deductible, year-end gift to Project Chimps today.

Shop Project Chimps for the Holidays!

Shop for holiday gifts that make a difference!

Our 2019 Project Chimps Wall Calendar makes a great gift and it’s only $17.99. We also have new Project Chimps t-shirts, hats, keychains, decals, pet bandanas, hoodies, tote bags and more!

All proceeds go to the sanctuary to support the care of the chimps so order your holiday giftsfrom Project Chimps today!

Looking for additional gift ideas? Consider these meaningful gifts for friends and family:

Give the gift of a one-year chimpanzee sponsorship for just $23/month and your gift recipient will receive a personalized certificate, beautiful 5×7 photo of their chimp, and an adorable plush chimp toy – hurry and order yours by Monday, December 17th!

Give the beautiful, everlasting, vegan lipstick by Kat Von D Beauty, which supports Project Chimps!

Secure tickets for your chimp-loving friends to attend one of our Discovery Days events in 2019.

Use Amazon Smile when you shop on Amazon and Project Chimps can receive 0.5% of each purchase! Just sign up and select Project Chimps as your charity.

Give a gift they’ll never forget and help the chimps at the same time!

Cedar Tree Males, Females Outdoors Together!

Project Chimps is working to create a fission-fusion society for former research chimpanzees who are now living in sanctuary.  But to recreate the social structure that exists in wild populations of chimpanzees in a captive setting is no easy feat.

It begins by reuniting male and female chimpanzees who were artificially separated into same-sex groups in the lab.

This week, the males and females of Cedar Tree Villa were fully integrated into a single social group of 15 chimpanzees. Read the whole story on our blog…

From the Cedar Tree Villa tunnel, Bo (left), Genesis (right) and Buttercup (top) watch Jennifer and their other group mates explore the Peachtree Habitat together for the very first time. Moments later, Buttercup went outdoors too.

Project Chimps Welcomes Student Intern from Germany

Jan Schoepe is a landscape architecture intern visiting from Cologne, Germany.
Jan Schoepe grew up in Cologne, Germany, surrounded by animals. His family had many adopted pets and they frequently visited the Koelner Zoo, where Jan (pronounced “yahn”) always dreamed of going behind the scenes.

Jan, 21, has now had the unique opportunity to go behind the scenes at Project Chimps for the past month as an intern thanks to a collaborative internship with the Seattle-based architecture firm, Zoo Design Inc. Read more on our blog…


You can help us or continue to help us provide for all the chimpanzees currently in our care; all it takes is a small donation. Thank you.



Giving Day for Apes was a Success!

This was the second time we participated in the global Giving Day for Apes fundraising event. Last year, we raised just over $36,000 for the care of former research chimpanzees. This year, we were hopeful that with new friends and long-time supporters at our side, including you, we could raise $40,000 for GDA 2018.

Amazingly, we reached our original goal in the early afternoon, well before the deadline. Then our anonymous donor contributed an additional $5,000 matching gift to push our overall goal to $50,000!

Were you surprised?

We reached the $50,000 goal within 30 minutes of announcing it! That’s right, just 30 minutes to raise an additional $10,000 to support the chimpanzees that call Project Chimps their forever home.

And the gifts kept coming in. By midnight, we had soared past $62,000. Simply amazing.

Gertrude, Danner, and Amy would thank you for your support if they could. If you contributed to Giving Day for Apes, you will soon receive a thank you gift from us with special notes from one of the care staff who know these three individuals well. If you donated at $100 and above before midnight, you will also receive the 2019 calendar. Those who contributed $200 and above will receive the calendar and the bandana. Look for these in the mail as a thank you for your generosity!

And if you also contributed to our Power Hour from 2 – 3 pm yesterday, we will send your screensaver options in an email a little later today.

While the competition is over, the needs are still ongoing. If you missed out on donating yesterday, you can contribute today, tomorrow, or consider making a monthly gift to support the 49 chimpanzees currently here and the future 200+ who will be here soon.

I can’t thank you enough for your support, whether you contribute $1 or $10,000. Or even if you simply like and share our social media posts to help spread our message, YOU are making the difference in these chimpanzees lives.

Be on the look out for exciting updates and I hope you will continue to engage with us in meaningful ways!

Tomorrow is Giving Day for Apes at Project Chimps

Community, Featured
Tomorrow is a very special day – it’s Giving Day for Apes! This one day event is a global initiative to support sanctuaries around the world that work with gorillas, bonobos, orangutans, gibbons, and of course our favorite…the chimpanzee! I hope you will join me in our efforts to raise fund to support the 49 chimpanzees that call Project Chimps home.

On this Giving Day for Apes, or “G-D-A” for short, we’re working to raise $40,000 to provide food, care and enrichment to the 49 chimpanzees now in our sanctuary. The first $20,000 will be matched by a generous donor, so we ask you to help us reach and exceed that first $20,000 goal.

We invite you to choose a chimp for the G-D-A competition:


We know them, so we know it’s a tough choice! Here’s a little more information to help you decide:
Gertrude is SOCIAL. She’s leading the way in our first program to introduce the male and female chimps who were forced to live separately in the lab. If you want to help bring the chimps together into a more natural and balanced social group in which they can thrive, dedicate your donation to GERTRUDE.
Danner loves FOOD. When Danner arrived at Project Chimps, he seemed so excited to have so many new fresh fruits and vegetables in his diet. He particularly loves pears and sweet potatoes. And we can see the nutritional benefits in his now-shiny brown hair. If you love healthy food and believe the chimps deserve more of it, dedicate your donation to DANNER.
Amy is all about the FUN. She is young, energetic and smart and needs to be actively engaged. We’re working to provide new climbing structures, engaging puzzles and toys for all 49 chimps in the sanctuary. If you love fun, dedicate your donation to AMY.

Choosing a chimp is hard, but donating is easy. Just dedicate your donation in your favorite chimp’s name when you donate today!  You can donate anytime now through midnight on Tuesday Sept 25th for your donation to be matched!

Or set a reminder to donate on Tuesday and not only is your donation doubled, but we will also send you a cool Project Chimps’ gift! See below for details.

On behalf of the 49 chimpanzees currently in our care and more than 200 chimpanzees that we are working to bring to sanctuary, thank you for your generous support!


Ali Crumpacker
Executive Director

Ahhhhh, Finally Time to Enjoy Retirement


The chimpanzees clocked out of their former work place in New Iberia, Louisiana on Tuesday, Sept. 9th.  After a 700-mile journey including several hours in Atlanta morning rush hour traffic, Fannin’s newest retirees arrived at Project Chimps.  Within two hours, one chimpanzee had already climbed into a hammock to soak in sweet mountain air and enjoy the first day of retirement in Cedar Tree Villa.

The eight new retirees who moved to Fannin.

The eight new retirees who moved to Fannin.

The group of nine female chimpanzees is the first of many groups that will make their way to Fannin County.  In total, 220 chimpanzees will live at Project Chimps within three to five years.  All of the chimpanzees that will be at Project Chimps are from New Iberia Research Center, which is a division University of Louisiana – Lafayette.  There the chimpanzees were involved in biomedical research.

Project Chimps staff suit up to unload the retirees.

Project Chimps staff suit up to unload the retirees.

Like humans, the chimpanzees were rattled by their 14-hour overnight drive when they arrived at Project Chimps.  FetchYourNews asked Mike Seres, Director of Chimpanzee Management and world renown chimpanzee communicator to translate the chimpanzees’ first words about their new home.  Seres said several cried because they didn’t know what was happening.  They let out a distress call with a high-pitched squeak and a grimace.



The chimps traveled in comfortable surroundings built by Fannin County’s Dale Eavenson and his WildSide Custom Trailer and Conversions.  In fact, Project Chimps has made a point of hiring local businesses and trades people.  By the time Project Chimps is at capacity, the organization will be the fifth largest employer in the county.


blue-ridge-com                          moving-in-2        inside-van

Genesis and Latricia were the first chimpanzees to disembark.  According to Seres, these are the dominant chimpanzees in the group.  After the two got comfortable, the other chimpanzees entered the villa one by one.  This time, the conversation was different. The non-dominant members came up to Genesis and Latricia to find out if the new retirement home is safe and to chat about the road trip. The other seven chimpanzees that made the journey are Jennifer, Charisse, Buttercup, Samira, Gertrude, Gracie and Emma.


United States Human Society regional coordinators Debra Berger, Rachel Thompson and Rebecca Portman.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) representatives were there as well.  HSUS has a special relationship with the New Iberia chimpanzees and Project Chimps. New Iberia Research Center was the subject of a 2009 undercover investigation led by The Humane Society of the United States (click here to read the United States Humane Society’s article and and view video about the investigation).  Findings from this investigation increased pressure on the National Institute of Health and the United States Department of Agriculture to stop permitting chimpanzees use in medical studies and it led to the US Fish and Wildlife Service classifying all US chimpanzees as endangered animals.  HSUS provided a substantial amount of funding to help Project Chimps buy the facility and prepare for its residents.

The female chimpanzees will have a few weeks to relax in their villa.  Then a group of their male co-workers will join them.

chimp-kitchen-1Within the next couple of months, Fannin residents will also have a chance to join the chimpanzees.  Project Chimps will soon start their Chimp Chef program where volunteers can make yummy chimp smoothies and watch the chimps through the kitchen’s large picture window.  Celebrity Chef Rachel Ray designed and donated the kitchen. Volunteers will not be able to touch the chimps and will only be able to come within about 25 feet of the chimps due to chimp and human health safety regulations.  At a later date, Project Chimps plans to build an observation deck overlooking the open-air play area.





See Related Posts:  Commissioners Give Green Light to Project Chimps

Securing Fannin’s Newest Retirees at Project Chimps

Meet Fannin’s Newest Retirees, Chimpanzees

Commissioners Vote to Table Project Chimps Application to House 80 Chimpanzees in Fannin County


This article has been updated to reflect the correct number of chimpanzees.  There are 220 chimpanzees total coming from New Iberia Research Center.  On Thursday, the first nine chimpanzees arrived at Project Chimps.


Commissioners Vote to Table Project Chimps’ Application to House 80 Chimpanzees in Fannin County


At their August 9th meeting, Fannin County Board of Commissioners discussed  Project Chimps’ application to bring 80 chimpanzees to live in its sanctuary in Fannin County.  The chimpanzees are to arrive in groups of nine to ten over the next year.  In all, Project Chimps will bring approximately 240 chimpanzees over a period of five years.

The Commissioners must approve Project Chimps’ application for exotic animals before the animals can arrive in Fannin County.  According to Fannin County’s Wild and Exotic Animals Ordinance:  “ In the event that the Fannin County Board of Commissioners determines that such a facility cannot be operated within  Fannin County, Georgia, in a manner to insure the health, safety and well-being of the citizens of this County, then the Board of Commissioners shall have the right to reject said application.  The decision of the Board of Commissioners in any individual case, shall be final.”

The Commissioners voted to review the application at the next County Commissioners’ meeting on August 23rd at 6 pm in the Fannin County Courthouse.

The Commissioners’ actions came as a great surprise to Fannin residents, Project Chimps and national organizations that have been pushing for the retirement of New Iberia Research Center’s chimpanzee population.  New Iberia Research Center, operated by the University of Louisiana – Lafayette, currently houses the chimpanzees.

Project Chimps arrived at the Commissioners’ meeting expecting to give a presentation to the Commissioners before they voted on the application.  Post-Commissioner Earl Johnson said he understood Project Chimps had obtained legal counsel.   Sarah Baeckler Davis, President and CEO of Project Chimps, stated that they had obtained David Ralston as a consultant, not as their attorney.  David Ralston represents Georgia’s 7th District, which includes Fannin County, and is Speaker of the House for Georgia General Assembly. Chairman Simonds said, “I don’t know if we can vote on it yet.”  Mr. Johnson then asked County Attorney Lynn Doss what the appropriate procedures would be for speaking with Project Chimps during the meeting.  Ms. Doss confirmed that the Commissioners need to send comments to her and she will pass the comments on Mr. Ralston.  Post-Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee stated he felt Project Chimps’ obtaining representation by Mr. Ralston was a push to get us [the Commissioners] to vote.

However, during Public Commentary and Commissioners’ Commentary, the Commissioners openly discussed Project Chimps with the organization and Fannin residents in attendance.

Project Chimps’ President and CEO, Sara Baeckler Davis, spoke second during Public Commentary.  She did not give her prepared presentation.  Ms. Baeckler Davis did, though, give an overview of Project Chimps and how it impacts Fannin County.  She spoke about safety measures in place and how the facility will provide jobs and educational opportunities for Fannin residents.  She said that Project Chimps has been overwhelmed by public support from the community.

Sarah Baeckler Davis, President and CEO of Project Chimps

Sarah Baeckler Davis, President and CEO of Project Chimps

Ms. Baeckler Davis said that before coming in front of the County Commissioner, she wanted to have her federal and state permits in place since the Commission could not vote on her application without the two permits.  On July 8th, Project Chimps obtained the United States Department of Agriculture permit and on July 25, it obtained the Georgia Division of Natural Resources permit.

Chad Bowers, owner of Better Building Systems, Inc. in Blue Ridge, was the first Fannin resident to speak.  He is the General Contractor for Project Chimps.  He stated that the organization has already brought $200,000 into his Fannin County business and he estimates around $200,000 more in the near future.

Fannin resident Jan Eaton spoke next.  She pressured the Commissioners to be transparent in “what the big hold up is.” She stated that she had visited the “remarkable facility” and it is a “remarkable thing for the community.”  She finished with, “What is the big problem?”

Next up was a neighbor of Project Chimps, Dawn di Lorenzo. Ms. Di Lorenzo lives on Loving Road, which is close to Project Chimps’ facility on Lowery Road.  She said she is delighted the project will be in the community and she wasn’t aware there was any downside.  Janice Hayes of the Cohutta Animal Clinic and Gary Steverson, owner of Blue Ridge Cotton Company, also spoke in favor of Project Chimps.

Mike Seres, Director of Chimpanzee Management at Project Chimps

Mike Seres, Director of Chimpanzee Management at Project Chimps

Next up was Mike Seres, Director of Chimpanzee Management at Project Chimps.  He stated he has over 40 years’ experience re-socializing and integrating groups of chimpanzees.  His last full-time position was for five years as Great Ape Behavioral Consultant at Kumamoto Sanctuary which is part of Kyoto University in Japan.

No one spoke against Project Chimps during Public Commentary.

During the Commissioners’ Commentary, the Commissioners questioned Ms. Baeckler Davis and also gave comments about the project, even though they stated earlier in the meeting that they would not make public comment, but pass all information through County Attorney Lynn Doss.

First off was Commission Chair Bill Simonds.  The direction of his questions was about the long-term funding sources for Project Chimps.  He said he understands that Project Chimps wants to bring 240 individuals that have a life span of 40-60 years. Mr. Simonds said that it was one long commitment and in 40 years people in this room won’t be around to worry about it. Ms. Baeckler Davis affirmed that the organization is not receiving any federal or state grants.  However, the organization is receiving donations from private individuals, other non-profits, and New Iberia Research Center is also contributing money as part of its contract to retire the chimps at the sanctuary.

Ms. Baeckler Davis also reminded the Commissioners about the timeline for arrival of all 240 chimpanzees.  The chimpanzees will arrive in social groups of 9 to 10 animals at a time.  The application is for 80 chimpanzees because that is what the facility can accommodate at this time.  Later groups will move in as the facility expands, which will take a total of five years.  She also said that the chimpanzees must have health certification, which, according to federal regulations can only occur one-month prior to transportation from Louisiana to Georgia.

At the end of his comments about the application, Mr. Simonds stated that he did not want Fannin county residents to be stuck with caring for the chimpanzees because donations to Project Chimps ran dry.

Post-Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee was next.  His line of questioning was about the health of the animals.  First, he wanted to know if the chimpanzees are newly-arrived from Africa.  Then he questioned about what kind of biomedical research the chimpanzees were used for while they were at New Iberia Research Center.  Ms. Baeckler Davis did not answer this questions.  But, she did say that to pass health inspection, which each animal must have before coming to Fannin County, a veterinarian must state that the animals are healthy and not carriers of disease communicable to humans.  Also, the chimpanzees must have rabies, tetanus, pneumonia and tuberculosis vaccines.  She said Project Chimps’ application contained a letter from the attending veterinarian at New Iberia Research Center confirming the animals are free of communicable disease and have had required vaccinations.  She reminded the Commissioners that the chimpanzees also have USDA and Georgia DNR permits.

Next, Post-Commissioner Earl Johnson “wanted to clear the air.”  He said that this (Aug. 9th) evening was the first time he had received information about Project Chimps and he received it at 5:15, 45 minutes before the meeting.  He said that the only communication that has been done was through County Attorney Lynn Doss and she doesn’t vote.  He also doesn’t want his vote to be a knee-jerk reaction.

In balance to Mr. Johnson’s statements, FetchYourNews reports FetchYourNews reports that a formal announcement of Project Chimps was not made until early May 2016 because negotiations between Project Chimps and New Iberia Research Center had not yet been completed. Then in early May, newswire sources like the Associated Press carried stories about New Iberia Research Center’s chimpanzees moving to Fannin County.  This was publicized by other media outlets.

Project Chimps' team meets with Fannin County EMA.

Project Chimps’ team meets with Fannin County EMA.

Project Chimps met with Fannin County Emergency Management Agency in early summer to discuss safety at the facility. Project Chimps formally applied for the exotic animal permit on July 15, 2016. And, Project Chimps’ Open House on June 25th had over 300 attendees and was well-covered in local media.

Open House attendees listen to Ms. Baekler Davis describe the facility.

Open House attendees listen to Ms. Baekler Davis describe the facility.

FetchYourNews also asked Marie Woody, the Chief Land Development Officer for Fannin County, when she was able to officially inform the Commissioners about the arrival of Project Chimps.  Ms. Woody said that Project Chimps delivered their building permit application in late afternoon on Friday, July 15th and she informed Commission Chairman Bill Simonds and County Attorney Lynn Doss on Monday morning, July 18th.

Then, Mr. Johnson went on to list his concerns.  First and foremost are his concerns about security; can chimpanzees escape the facility or uninvited humans or animals get in?  He also wanted to know if security barriers will hold up if a tree falls on them.  Another concern is what biomedical tests the chimps were involved in and if this can pass to humans through birds or squirrels which will get into the open-air space.  He stated that Robert Graham, Director of Fannin County Emergency Management Agency, should be involved in the decision.  He said we should have started talking about this three months ago.

FetchYourNews reports that the facility Project Chimps owns was donated by Dewar Wildlife Trust, which ran the facility as Gorilla Haven. It housed 1-4 male gorillas, most notably Zoo Atlanta’s Willie B. Jr. and Jasiri.  The gorillas are no longer there and the facility has been retro-fitted to house chimpanzees.  Security walls and fences from the gorilla facility remain.  There are is no publicly available record of Gorilla Haven’s gorillas transmitting illness to humans in Fannin County, nor is there any record of escape.

Finally, Mr. Simonds commented on Project Chimps again.  He said, “We want anything that will benefit Fannin County, but we have to answer to taxpayers.”  He also said that the Commissioners received two calls from residents living in My Mountain complaining that Project Chimps will cause their property value to go down.  My Mountain borders the west side of the Project Chimps facility. He ended with, “We (the Commissioners) are not going to rush into anything.”


Fannin County Board of Commissioners Meeting, August 9, 2016



This is the first in a series of articles FetchYourNews is writing about Project Chimps.  In the next article, FetchYourNews interviews Mike Seres, Director of Chimpanzee Management and Sarah Baeckler Davis, President and CEO of Project Chimps.  Following articles will examine Commissioners worries about safety, health and funding in comparison to national data and Project Chimps’ facility.


This article has been updated from the previous version published on August 13.





Project Chimps 6/24/16


Our guest this morning; CEO of Project Chimp Sarah Baeckler Davis. Find out about the 200 Chimps coming to Fannin County.

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