Last summer, television celebrity Bob Barker came to the rescue of five chimpanzees who were stranded at a bankrupt facility in Texas by offering to pay for their new home and their care for a year. On Thursday, May 3rd, the chimpanzees–Doc, JoJo, Murphy, Flick, and Pierre–responded to Barker’s trademark message to “Come on down” as they made their debut in their new home at Chimp Haven.
“I have waited months for this occasion,” remarked Barker, who attended the event with Nancy Burnet, his philanthropic advisor, at his side. “After 30 years of being locked in cages, these chimpanzees now have the choice to lie in the grass and look up at the sky—day or night. They can climb trees and build nests. And best of all, they can do it with each other. Seeing this today has me choked up.”
When Barker heard about the five chimpanzees, all infected with the HIV virus and hepatitis, no one would offer them a home. Chimp Haven expressed the desire to bring them to Louisiana, but it had no permanent living facility to offer them or the financial means to build one. Chimp Haven President Dr. Linda Brent recalls, “When Bob Barker heard about the plight of those chimpanzees and offered his help, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to give them a humane home. After what they have been through, they deserve to spend the rest of their lives at peace in spacious habitat. Thanks to Mr. Barker, we are able to give them a two-acre home with a beautiful view.” Because most of the habitat is surrounded by a water moat, the chimpanzees’ view will not be obstructed by barrier walls.
Through his $380,000 donation, Barker, one of the country’s most generous individual animal welfare advocates, has launched Chimp Haven’s plan to expand its facility to care for more “rescue” chimpanzees coming from the private sector. A special surprise came at the event when Barker announced that he wanted to “round out” his $380,000 donation to $500,000. He presented a check for $120,000 to Dr. Brent.
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For a photo gallery of the chimpanzees in their new habitat click here.