Sometimes in south Louisiana, we might have the attitude that there’s not a good time for a road trip to greater Shreveport, but there are three special reasons for driving to north Louisiana this fall and they involve family: our family of great apes.
The world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary is in Keithville, south of Shreveport. Chimp Haven will have a rare set of days open to the public for a modest charge in September, October and November.
The nonprofit sanctuary takes in chimpanzees “retired” from medical research. As our near-neighbors in the evolutionary chain, chimps were prized for that purpose but it is also no more than right that they not be euthanized after their service, as was once a common practice. The National Institutes of Health ended chimpanzee research in 2015.
The chimps are big, not cuddly little babies, so their care is an elaborate process. Chimp Haven is in the process of expanding and taking in new chimpanzees, in large part through a $10 million gift from philanthropists and conservationists Kimbra and Mark Walter for an expansion of the refuge, which was near capacity.
The public viewings are beyond a zoo experience and highly recommended.