We would not need chimpanzee sanctuaries if our next of kin were not used in biomedical research and entertainment; sanctuaries have developed out of necessity. Many chimpanzees who were once "pets" or in entertainment find themselves in biomedical research as they approach adolescence. Chimpanzees are also intentionally bred to be used in biomedical research and in other forms of chemical and drug testing.
Once chimpanzees are no longer used for experimentation and testing, they are still condemned to a life behind bars. They are often deprived of natural light, have limited contact with other chimpanzees, and are subjected to stressful situations. The life of a chimpanzee in biomedical research is never chimpanzee-friendly.
Thanks to animal welfare and animal rights organizations and donations from the concerned public, sanctuaries have been built for the permanent retirement of chimpanzees from biomedical research. The key word is permanent; not all sanctuaries are dedicated to this belief. It is important to pay attention to the board of directors for each sanctuary. If the board has members who are part of the biomedical research community, the sanctuary may not give chimpanzees a permanent retirement. Sanctuaries that do not support permanent retirement are willing to take the chimpanzees out of the sanctuaries and place them back into biomedical research facilities for further research and testing. Chimpanzees who were once used for entertainment purposes may also have a semi-permanent retirement.
Sanctuaries who support full-retirement can provide a quality of life most chimpanzees have never experienced. They can provide chimpanzees with different forms of enrichment, health-care, and a nurturing environment. They can provide a life as close to their free-living relatives as is possible in captivity. One example of a sanctuary that is focused on the well-being and permanent retirement of chimpanzees is Save the Chimps, in Fort Pierce, Florida. Another, the Fauna Foundation, is the home and sanctuary to former biomedical chimpanzees.