The fate of chimps from an Oregon-based sanctuary run by Chimps Inc. that were going to be sent to a research lab took a hopeful turn after Primarily Primates, Friends of Animal’s sanctuary, filed a lawsuit to stop the action.

In Oregon state court Monday, Chimps Inc. indicated it would be willing to consider keeping the chimps at the Oregon sanctuary in Tumalo under the management of the newly formed nonprofit Freedom for Great Apes, an option PPI indicated would be beneficial to the chimps in its lawsuit. Chimps Inc.’s reaction follows a temporary restraining order PPI obtained last week to freeze Chimp’s Inc.’s planned move of the primates to the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative research lab in Des Moines, Iowa. 

An Oregon state court judge issued the order March 21 after PPI filed a lawsuit March 19 seeking the return of two chimps, Emma, and Jackson, from Chimps Inc. who had been sent to Tumalo in 2006 after the Texas sanctuary was temporarily closed following allegations of animal neglect and misuse of funds. Friends of Animals took over management and oversight of the 78-acre PPI in 2007. In a 2008 settlement Chimps Inc. agreed to secure permanent sanctuary for Emma and Jackson in perpetuity and to give PPI rights to bring the two chimps back to PPI if Chimps Inc. dissolved or needed to find a home for them.

“It’s unheard of that chimpanzees in a sanctuary would be sold or moved to a research facility when sanctuaries exist to receive primates and other animals after they are released,’’ Friends of Animals President Priscilla Feral said. “Emma and Jackson have been at the sanctuary in Tumalo for 12 years, having the freedom and privilege of following their own interests and choosing how to spend their time and days as sanctuary residents. Any effort to tear Emma and Jackson away from their lives of freedom and safety at a sanctuary would cause severe emotional and physical harm and would be severely detrimental to the health and well-being of these chimpanzees, perhaps fatal.”

PPI is willing to pay for and relocate all seven of Chimps Inc. to its San Antonio sanctuary, it said in the lawsuit or keep the apes in Oregon with Freedom for Great Apes, which has signed a long-term lease with the owner of the property in Tumalo, Lesley Day. Chimps Inc.’s lease with Day, who stepped down as president of Chimps Inc, in 2017, ends May 10.

Check back for more updates on PPI’s efforts to make sure the chimps remain in a sanctuary.

This post was updated on March 26, 2019.