FORT PIERCE, Fla. - Video from a Florida sanctuary shows the heartwarming hugs shared by a group of chimpanzees when they reunited after a long journey from Ohio.
Chimps Anna, April, Lucy, and Cash made their way from Ohio to Florida in a caravan staffed by sanctuary workers, according to Save the Chimps, a 150-acre refuge that houses more than 220 chimpanzees.
Cyril S. Vierstra, an exotic animal keeper who previously owned the primates, kept them confined indoors and was recently sentenced to prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds to pay for his roadside zoo.
The four chimps were all smiles and hugs when they were finally back together again. They’ll remain in a large outdoor enclosure for two months while they quarantine.
April grooming Anna (Save the Chimps)
Dr. Andrew Halloran, Save the Chimps’ Director of Chimpanzee Behavior and Care, met the chimps in Ohio to assess how well they would integrate into one of the sanctuary’s 12 chimp islands.
"These are extremely intelligent chimpanzees who deserve the chance to explore a larger world," Halloran said in a statement. "We look forward to seeing them thrive on a vast island habitat with 15-20 new lifelong companions, with the freedom to choose where they want to be and who they want to be with."
The hundreds of chimps living at the sanctuary have been retired from laboratories or rescued from the entertainment industry, the pet trade and roadside zoos. From now through July 31, an anonymous donor is matching all donations to Save the Chimps.