CJ the chimp arrives at new home in Tumalo

Move to sanctuary follows 2 recent Las Vegas escapes

Infamous chimp 'escape artist' arrives in Tumalo

TUMALO, Ore. - CJ, the Las Vegas chimp that made headlines after two recent escapes, arrived Friday at Chimps Inc., the Tumalo chimp sanctuary that will be her new home, officials said.

"Thanks to Marla O'Donnell, sanctuary director, and Lee Watkinson, one of CJ's former owners, she is safe and sound in her new home," the announcement said.

The sanctuary said "CJ was greeted by chimpanzees Topo, Herbie, Jackson, Patti, Maggie, Thiele and Emma, who each have a unique story of their own, just like CJ."

Trained caregivers at Chimps Inc. were prepared prior to her arrival and made sure her transition went smoothly.

"We got her backed up to a door, and we opened up her door, and she just went into the cage and up the ladder and down the tunnels," said Chimps Inc. founder Lesley Day.

"And all the chimps were so excited to see her," Day said. "You would never know that she's been in this small little cage for over a week. She's amazing."

Also on site were NAPSA (North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance) experts for their scheduled annual board meeting at the home of Chimps Inc. founder Lesley Day.

They included Gloria Grow (of the Fauna Foundation), April Truitt (Primate Rescue Center), Jen Feuerstein (Save the Chimps), Patti Ragan (Center for Great Apes) and Sarah Baeckler (Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest).

The NAPSA group issued the following statement about the recent events: "NAPSA is pleased that CJ has found a home at our member sanctuary, Chimps Inc., where she will be cared for in a secure and professional environment. CJ and Buddy's case serves as a further reminder that chimpanzees should not be bred and sold as pets."

CJ and a male chimp named Buddy escaped July 12 from a cage in a residential neighborhood in Las Vegas. Police said they were jumping on cars and drew a crowd of spectators -- but when Buddy made aggressive moves toward an officer, he was fatally shot.

CJ was tranquilized and returned home, but escaped again last Saturday, prompting the move to Oregon, a trip stalled at one point for a few days as they awaited medical test results required for CJ to cross state lines.

"The rescue and integration process takes a tremendous amount of coordination and is quite complex," the sanctuary said, noting that "each chimpanzee has his or her own personality, which has to be taken into consideration when bringing in a new member."

Shayla Scott, senior caregiver, "worked carefully to ensure that the current chimps were strategically located prior to CJ's release into quarantine," the sanctuary said.

Introductions are a delicate process, so to ensure a smooth transition, Chimps Inc. provided CJ with video and photos in order to encourage face recognition of the seven new family members she'd soon meet.

Chimps Inc. also had some of her favorite food and comfort items on hand when she arrived. She chose to eat avocado, red bell pepper, bananas, grapes and potatoes, they said.

Although Chimps Inc has their own gardens on site, the cost of feeding each chimpanzee is very expensive. Most of the produce is donated by local grocery stores, but this only covers a small portion of what is needed to feed the chimps on a daily basis.

The average cost for each chimpanzee is about $1200 per month (not including medical costs), and Chimps Inc. said it "is graciously accepting donations for this sudden turn of events."

"All gifts can be made at 100 percent of all donations go directly to the care and housing of CJ. Her supporters will receive personalized weekly email updates on her progress. General donations to the sanctuary are also welcome and appreciated."

The facility's statement continued:

"CJ is an unfortunate product of the wild animal pet trade. Most private owners acquire chimpanzees when they are very young. These infant chimpanzees are removed from their mothers soon after birth, sometimes only a few days later, to make them more human dependent."

"In the wild, a chimpanzee would not leave its mother for the first two years and they would stay with the family group for at least eight. This mother-infant separation causes psychological trauma that affects the chimpanzee for the rest of his or her life."

"Chimpanzees grow to be strong and intelligent, and most often are forced to live in impoverished environments, being cared for at facilities that lack thorough safety protocols and is a recipe for disaster."

"Chimpanzees are very dangerous and in captivity can display behaviors that are dangerous to humans and when they are living in homes and close to the public, there is a great risk for injury."

"While sanctuaries are exposed to the same risks, accredited facilities are required to comply and maintain strict safety regulations and provide extensive training of on-site staff and volunteers."

"These GFAS (Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries) accredited sanctuaries that comprise the NAPSA group are the Fauna Foundation in Carignan , QC; Primate Rescue Center, Nicholasville, KY; Save the Chimps, Ft. Peirce, FL; Center for Great Apes, Wachoula, FL; Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Cle Elum, WA; and Chimps Inc., Bend, OR."

"Chimps Inc. would like to extend their appreciation to the six other sanctuaries that comprise the NAPSA group for their support and are grateful to have these sanctuaries available to chimps in need. Also included in our gratitude are all of CJ's followers who have supported us along the journey to her new home at Chimps Inc.

About Chimps Inc.
Chimps Inc. was founded in 1995 as a 501(c)3 non-profit sanctuary by Lesley Day and is specifically designed to provide lifetime care to captive chimpanzees and is dedicated to overcome exploitation and cruelty that their residents and other captive wild animals face through advocacy and education. Chimps Inc. is a founding member of NAPSA (North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance), a governing body for chimpanzee sanctuaries throughout the United States and Canada.

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