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Hopeful Update on Hercules and Leo

By Courtney Fern

March 21st of this year will mark four years since NhRP’s chimpanzee clients Hercules and Leo were transferred from the New Iberia Research Center to Project Chimps.

Almost two years ago, whistleblowers brought to light well-documented information that showed Project Chimps and the Humane Society of the United States (an affiliated organization and Project Chimps’ primary funder) were not fulfilling their commitment to provide true sanctuary to Project Chimps’ chimpanzee residents, including Hercules and Leo. We learned, and Project Chimps did not dispute, that Hercules and Leo were confined to an indoor housing structure with cement floors and an enclosed porch for all but a few hours a week. Several times, we called on Project Chimps and HSUS to take whatever steps and devote whatever resources are necessary to immediately provide Hercules and Leo with daily access to an outdoor habitat.

Recently, thanks in large part to a campaign spearheaded by the several grassroots advocacy organizations, HSUS has agreed to increase their financial support of Project Chimps, beginning with a $5 million grant to build a new outdoor habitat. We are grateful to the dedication of the advocates who tirelessly campaigned for much needed changes at Project Chimps. We are also very pleased that HSUS is prioritizing support for Project Chimps and providing them with the financial resources to transform it into a true and great sanctuary for chimpanzees. We are hopeful that Hercules and Leo will soon have daily access to the outdoors. Until that happens, we will continue to monitor their housing and care and advocate for their interests.

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