The heartwarming story of Vanilla, the 28-year-old chimpanzee, highlights her journey from a cramped cage in a research laboratory to the open expanse of a sanctuary home. Vanilla, who spent her early years in a biomedical research laboratory in New York, was commonly housed in a small cage suspended from the ground. However, she was rescued by another sanctuary that also had cage tops, obstructing her view of the open sky.
When that facility closed in 2019, Save the Chimps, a sanctuary in Florida, decided to provide Vanilla and her family with a forever home. After a quarantine period, Vanilla and her family were introduced to one of the larger family groups at the sanctuary. They can now roam and live freely on a three-acre island and choose how to spend their days.
The heartwarming video shared by Save the Chimps captures Vanilla’s first steps outside, where she embraces the alpha male named Dwight and expresses her joy and awe at the open sky. After her initial hesitation, Vanilla has adapted well to her new surroundings and is now enjoying exploring the island and relaxing with her family. Vanilla has probably seen open sky for the first time.
“We are happy to share that Vanilla and Shake are now fully integrated into this large chimpanzee family, giving them the opportunity and freedom to explore the family’s 3-acre island. Shake went out onto the island without hesitation, but Vanilla was a bit more apprehensive when the door opened to this new world. She sat in the doorway until Dwight, the alpha male, encouraged her to join him.”
– Save The Chimps
Save the Chimps is a sanctuary that provides a safe haven for over 220 chimpanzees rescued from various backgrounds, including laboratories, the entertainment industry, exotic pet trade, and roadside zoos. The sanctuary aims to give these intelligent and social animals an opportunity to thrive and experience a life closer to their natural habitat.
Vanilla’s story is heartwarming and shows how resilient animals can be. Her transformation from a confined cage to the open sanctuary demonstrates the importance of providing chimpanzees and other animals with the chance to live in a more suitable environment.