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 were also intentionally bred to be used in biomedical research and in other forms of chemical and drug testing.
Chimpanzees retired from testing and experimentation are often 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 interests of chimpanzees have never been a priority in biomedical research facilities.
Thanks to animal welfare and animal rights organizations and donations from the concerned public, sanctuaries have been built for the permanent retirement of chimpanzees stuck in captivity. 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. Chimpanzees who were once used for entertainment purposes may also have a semi-permanent retirement. Sanctuaries may also not offer the environment and care that chimpanzees need.
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. The North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) seeks to advance and advocate for the welfare of captive primates. Originally founded in 2010 by the the directors of seven of the leading sanctuaries on the continent, NAPSA aims to use the collective voices and force of sanctuaries to advocate for captive primates' welfare. They also have a rigorous set of requirements for their member sanctuaries which insure primates are receiving the best care they can. Visit NAPSA's website to learn more. Find a full list of and links to the NAPSA member sanctuaries here.