Unexpected birth at Chimp Haven

Teresa Infant

Photo by Amy Fultz

Despite all residents receiving vasectomies prior to arrival at Chimp Haven, the caregivers stumbled upon a surprise yesterday morning… a healthy baby chimpanzee in the arms of her mother.

Chimp Haven reports that their next step is to determine paternity and address the failed vasectomy.

This is an interesting occurrence given the recent management allegations Chimp Haven has faced (discussed in previous posts/comments from Kambiz and DAB). The chimps (Teresa and the father, unknown at this time), sound like they are doing well at Chimp Haven, as successful breeding has generally been seen as a sign of good behavioral and physical health.

11 thoughts on “Unexpected birth at Chimp Haven

  1. I have always been fascinated by chimps and even wanted one at one time in my life – maybe someday I can get to Chimp Haven and see the chimps there.

  2. Karen Johnson,

    Yeah chimps are amazing, all great apes are! I maybe completely wrong about this but I don’t think Chimp Haven’s open to the public for visitation or exhibits. But, I know you can volunteer and get a chance to interact with some chimps maybe.


  3. Chimp Haven is open one Saturday a month to the public but not during the winter months. I live about twenty minutes away but haven’t been out there yet.

  4. I don’t think anyone has made any allegations suggesting that the chimps at Chimp Haven aren’t healthy, are they? My previous comments weren’t to that point anyway.

    Most of the chimps there are at least as healthy as they were when they arrived. There are exceptions, of course. Woodruff, who died last year, was definitely unhealthy, and nothing substantial was done to change that, which ultimately led to his death.

    There is frequent fighting among males in some groups. That’s unhealthy to the extent that they are injured. But it wouldn’t prevent them from reproducing.

  5. DAB, you’re right. I don’t believe there are allegations about unhealthy chimps outside of Woodruff’s death (in that they are “at least as healthy as they were when they got there”).

    Even though you said that the conditions are not bad, by lab standards, thoughts of the initial state of many retired lab chimps, comments mentioning that “chimps are put in situations where they are likely to be injured” and “one of Chimp Haven’s biggest flaws is the management’s lack of attention with special needs chimps,” and the Woodruff situation lead me to picture unhealthy animals, behaviorally as well as physical. Even though physical injuries may not prevent breeding, the behavioral aspect could certainly be a hindrance.

    Thanks for commenting, I’ll adjust the post to more accurately portray my thoughts.

  6. Chimp Haven Facts

    I decided to do some fact checking before making up my mind about the Chimp Haven/PPI/OSU/FOA debate. I visited Chimp Haven, read their website and tried to get the financial information from them that most non profits are happy to provide to their donors. This is what I found:

    Of the 200 acres Chimp Haven boosts about, less than 10 acres make up the two forested habitats. Only 38 chimps, including the new baby, live in these small pine forests. Simple math tells me that at least 50 chimps are living in cages and fenced in play yards viewing life through bars every day.

    There is no human contact with the chimps (other than visual), allowed at Chimp Haven unless an animal is injured and needs medical attention. I find this disturbing in many ways. Most lab chimps receive some type of human enrichment every day; the OSU chimps were raised with full physical contact with humans. To take this type of attention away from them must do emotional and mental harm. Especially babies like, Harper and Emma. I can’t imagine how an animal care taker must feel seeing them reaching out for the simplest touch and knowing they could loose their jobs if they show some compassion. I find it a strange policy for a sanctuary.

    All seven of the OSU chimps live in a completely enclosed cage approximately 100 x 100. Past OSU animal care staff may visit but can not touch the chimps they know so well. The OSU controversy is interesting as well. OSU claims that they asked Linda Brent, president and dictator of Chimp Haven to accept the nine chimpanzees in early 2006. She said no, blaming the NIH. Two of the OSU chimps have died since. Now Brent wants us to believe that Chimp Haven “rescued” the OSU chimps from PPI. The truth can be found on PETA’s website. PETA offered to pay all expenses and lifetime care to Chimp Haven if they would accept the seven remaining chimps. This money exchange “rescue” puts Chimp Haven in violation of their NIH grant, space that was bought and paid for by the NIH for lab chimps was given to the OSU chimps.

    Further thanks to Brent, whose only work experience is with an animal laboratory, Chimp Haven finds itself involved in no less than three lawsuits

    1. Chimp Haven donors lawsuit – alleging very serious mismanagement leading to multiple animal deaths and financial mismanagement. Tax payers dollars, PETA dollars, private donations, the facility is still incomplete and they need loans?
    2. PPI/PETA custody lawsuit – was it legal to accept funds from PETA to remove animals that were not owned by PETA? Was it legal to remove them at all?
    3. Former employee lawsuit – and there are lots of former employees for this facility that has been housing chimps for less than two years. There may be even more lawsuits, these are the few I discovered very easily through the local paper. The Shreveport, Louisiana Times has reported on Chimp Haven many times in the past.

    From personal observation, the animal care staff at Chimp Haven is doing a good job. When I asked (on several occasions, in person, telephone and email), how much money was spent on administration versus direct animal care I received vague answers. No real numbers or percentages that most non profits will publish for donors. Why the secrecy? So I checked out Chimp Haven’s tax records and found that the top level employees are making high five and low six figure salaries. I was shocked – this is a non profit isn’t it?

    My conclusion, check out everything before making decisions on who you support. It’s simple, takes little time and it’s important. Ask questions, visit the facility, a simple Google search can produce tons of information. Weigh the good and the bad. As for me, my money will go to the REAL sanctuaries.

    Good luck to all of the chimps in the world. I hope someday people will realize that you belong in the wild and should not be used for medical or entertainment reasons. Until then God Bless You.

  7. Linda, thanks for your in depth fact seeking review of Chimp Haven. I appreciate that you have taken the time to share with us the knowledge you have gained, but I am curious as to why you are sharing this with us? Especially in this post?

    This comment best fits under the following two posts, “Chimp Haven sued but denies the claims, of course” and “Ethical Concerns about maintaining the US’ Chimp population for Biomedical Research.” I do not feel like this comment fits the announcement of the birth of a chimpanzee. That being said, I do have a problem with your advocacy, especially the tone and how you have decided to place this potentially damaging comment on along side happy news.

    In this day and age, our nation and culture is preoccupied with superfluous litigation. Everyone and their mothers are suing one another. This is very transparent and obvious, and while some cases are legit, I feel one shouldn’t be as assumptious as you are. Most lawsuits aren’t legitimate.

    Ultimately all of this bad press, these litigations (false, if they are), harm the chimpanzees. Chimp Haven is taking care of, to the best of its ability, chimpanzees that have come from horrific life histories. Like most organizations, they are experiencing growing pains… but their primary incentive is to care for chimpanzees. If you feel your money is best spent at another “REAL sanctuary” then so be it… Not giving Chimp Haven any money isn’t going to help them get better management, and overcome these problems. On the contrary, it will be the chimps who further suffer from improper care and facilities due a lack of donated funds. A more constructive option is to address these problems and communicate openly and not financially punish the organization and chimps.

    So please don’t slander one of the few institution that is trying to do good

  8. Are they sure about the paternity, here.. I think Larry Birkhead my be the father. I see a family resemblance. Is the chimp in line to receive any inheritance. We need more DNA testing..

  9. Nice Anna Nicole Smith joke, maxthrottle. I hate to rain on your parade but I think they found out the father of Teresa’s child over at Chimp Haven.

    From Yann Klimentidis’ weblog, I just got news that 21-year-old Conan is the proud father. He’s got some super sperm,

    “Conan was one of seven males living in a group with the mother, Teresa, at Chimp Haven, which provides long-term care for chimps that had been used for laboratory research or in the entertainment industry or as pets.

    All seven underwent DNA tests after Teresa, a wild-born animal estimated to be in her mid- to late 40s, gave birth to Tracy.

    Chimp Haven president Linda Brent announced the findings on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

    “That isn’t who I was guessing,” she said.

    Conan, 17-year-old Magnum and 37-year-old Jimoh had been the top suspects because they seemed to have the most interest in Teresa, who gave birth to the female in January.

    “I think most of the staff thought it could be Jimoh, but also Magnum and Conan were definitely affectionate towards Teresa,” she said.

    All male chimps get vasectomies before they are brought to Chimp Haven. But its attending veterinarian, Elysse Orchard, said on the Chimp Haven Web site that vasectomy failures in chimpanzees are not uncommon.”

    Source: “Chimp DNA test says Conan’s the daddy.”

  10. Here’s an extended video (about 9 minutes) of the paternity test unveiling, footage of the chimps, and interviews with staff of Chimp Haven and Dr. Jeff Rogers of Southwest National Primate Research Center.

    Testing took longer than expected because they didn’t have a lot of experience in testing hair samples (which were used to avoid sedation for a blood draw). But the methods were tested and the analysis on 11 different markers in the DNA sequence, performed by Ray Garcia (Southwest National Primate Research Center), found Conan to be a perfect match.

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