It’s the heartwarming moment of Vanilla, a 29-year-old chimpanzee, who explodes with joy and amazement as she sees the sky for the first time after being caged her entire life.
On her move-in day, adorable footage captures Vanilla as she is encouraged by alpha male Dwight to get out in the open and is captured gazing up at the sky in awe. It was the emotional first time the 29-year-old chimpanzee had been outside a 5ft cage or enclosure.
After living in an experimental laboratory in New York until the age of two, Vanilla remained in an enclosure where she was unable to see the sky clearly through the fenced roof of a California rescue center until that she be transferred to the Save the Chimps Sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida.
Vanilla was greeted with a hug from Dwight as soon as she entered the sanctuary, welcoming her to her new home, where she will live with 18 other primates. She looked delighted to be welcomed with open arms.
And as more and more of her new primate roommates came to greet her, she continued to stare up at the sky in disbelief.
During her move back in the day to the Save the Chimps sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida, adorable video captured Vanilla looking up at the open sky in awe
The chimpanzee was greeted with a hug from alpha male Dwight as soon as she entered the sanctuary, welcoming her to her new home, where she will live with 225 other primates, 18 of whom live on her island. Vanilla was visibly delighted with the new surroundings
The video also shows her happily running around the 3-acre island and sitting with her new family, who were getting ready.
The video was taken by Save the Chimps primatologist Dr Andrew Halloran, who told the New York Post: ‘In California, Vanilla lived with a handful of chimpanzees in a wire cage with no grass and very little enrichment.’
Halloran said when Vanilla, who is described by Save the Chimps as independent, curious and intelligent, isn’t exploring her new island with the other chimps, she sits atop a three-foot climbing platform. floors overlooking his new world.
Vanilla lives on one of 12 islands, which are separated from each other by small waterbeds, allowing the sanctuary to give the chimpanzees their own open-air playground.
She gets along well with the 18 chimpanzees on her island, Halloran added, and said Vanilla has a special relationship with alpha male Dwight, from whom she sometimes steals food.
The island communities measure 150 acres in total and each chimpanzee is adapted to their island by a primatologist based on their personality and behavior.
More of her new housemates came to greet her as she continued to stare at the camera and the sky in disbelief
The adorable footage also showed her happily running around the 3-acre island
At the end of the video, she could be seen with her new family, who were grooming
When Vanilla (pictured), described by Save the Chimps as independent, curious and intelligent, isn’t exploring her new island with the other chimps, she sits atop a three-story climbing platform overlooking her new world.
Vanilla first lived in the now-closed Laboratory for Primate Experimental Medicine and Surgery (LEMSIP) in New York City, where she was housed in five-foot-square cages suspended from the ceiling – similar to birdcages – until 1995.
Vanilla first lived at the now-closed Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP) in New York City, where she was housed in five-square-foot cages suspended from the ceiling – similar to cages at birds – until 1995.
The two-year-old was one of 30 chimpanzees sent to Wildlife Waystation in California and joined a small family group that stayed in a larger enclosure.
But when the shelter closed in 2019, she once again found herself homeless, like 480 other animals – including 42 chimpanzees – who lived there.
Rescuers rushed to bring all the primates home, with Vanilla among the last seven to be moved.
The chimpanzee and his family made the cross-country trip to Florida, where they had to self-quarantine before being slowly introduced into larger family groups.
Now, Vanilla and her family finally have a 3-acre island to explore and roam as they please as part of Save the Chimps Sanctuary.
The 226 chimpanzees at the sanctuary came from laboratories, the entertainment industry, exotic pet shops or roadside zoos and most of them had never interacted with other chimpanzees before and had to endure solitary confinement.
What was the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates and why did it close?
At one time, the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP) housed some 300 chimpanzees and nearly 300 monkeys. Chimpanzees and other non-human primates have been subjected to intensive biomedical research in areas such as reproduction, blood transfusions, hepatitis B and HIV.
LEMSIP was established in 1965 with the goal of becoming a federally funded primate research center for the New York area, but it remained a private laboratory until it closed in 1997.
These facilities included the Fauna Foundation, Wildlife Waystation – where Vanilla was relocated – and the Primate Rescue Center.
The lab, located in a wooded area in upstate New York, was affiliated with New York University (NYU) School of Medicine.
In 1995, NYU reacted to LEMSIP by suddenly announcing that it would close LEMSIP and donate all of its primates to the Coulston Foundation.
At the time, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) filed formal charges against Coulston for the negligent deaths of chimpanzees and monkeys.
In 1997, the LEMSIP chimpanzees were sent to Coulston, but not before Jim Mahoney, veterinarian and acting director of LEMSIP after the dismissal of former director Jan Moor-Jankowski, managed to place 109 chimpanzees and 100 monkeys in sanctuaries in North America.
These included the Fauna Foundation, Wildlife Waystation – where Vanilla was relocated – and the Primate Rescue Center.