The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries(GFAS), the only internationally recognized organization providing standards for identifying legitimate animal sanctuaries, has awarded Accredited status to Primarily Primates Inc.

To be awarded Accredited status, an organization must meet GFAS’s rigorous and peer-reviewed animal care standards, which are confirmed by a site visit, and they must also adhere to a demanding set of ethical and opera-tional principles.Accreditation means that Primarily Primates, which is managed by Friends of Animals, meets the criteria of a true animal sanctuary and is providing humane and responsible care of the animals. Accreditation status also provides a clear and trusted means for the public, donors and grantors to recognize Primarily Primates as an exceptional organization.

“We are proud to announce the recent Accreditation of Primarily Primates Inc., a sanctuary providing high-quality, compassionate care to chimpanzees, baboons, Old and New World monkeys and a variety of other animals,” said Kristin Leppert, GFAS program director-wildlife. 

“With new leadership and increased care staff,the sanctuary is moving forward with renewed direction. Primarily Primates has worked tirelessly on revamping its infrastructure thorough winterization preparations,expanded chimpanzee habitats and a full audit of key protocols. Further upgrades are in the works throughout the sanctuary, and GFAS stands in full support of the course Primarily Primates has charted forward.”

“Primarily Primates Inc. has a great team of people who really supported this endeavor to become accredited,” said Krystal Mathis, executive director. “I am grateful to the staff, volunteers, donors, community supporters, and our extended team at Friends of Animals for going above and beyond to help us achieve this milestone. We have many plans for the direction of the sanctuary. The future is limitless for us!”

Rudy’s Great Outdoors habitat opens

Speaking of a brighter future, the completion of an expansive new green space at the sanctuary means all of our chimpanzees will have access to outdoor grass surface playground areas.

When care staff at Primarily Primates introduced chimpanzee Baxter into the new enclosure, it was everything they dreamed of and more.

“It was such a special experience to watch him try out every single climbing structure that he possibly could. He made such happy vocalizations while looking out at other chimps in nearby habitats from a whole new vantagepoint,” said Mathis. “One of our generous donors, Andy Cockrum, and I purposely left part of the space clear for running and arm swinging. My favorite part was seeing Baxter use that area exactly like we planned.”

Expanded opportunities for enrichment such as swings,climbing structures and playscapes matter because animals in sanctuaries need variety in their lives since every day in the wild would be different. The state-of-the-art enclosure,which was built with the support of many generous donors over the past few years, will be shared on a rotating basis by nine of PPI’s 31 chimpanzees. We’re calling the new habitat “Rudy’s Great Outdoors” in honor of our late chimp Rudy who succumbed to cancer in 2017. Known as the godfather of chimps at Primarily Primates, he was the first to arrive in 1983 after years of being exhibited in a small cage as a circus sideshow attraction.

“All residents at PPI went through some sort of traumatic,exploitive experience before they arrived here,” Mathis said.

Baxter was born in a lab for experimental medicine and later was leased for scientific and cosmetic testing. Eventually he was owned by Martin’s Working Wildlife and leased toa German television show.“Now that the animals are in our care, our goal is to ensure they are happy and fulfilled, and this new greenspace provides a more natural environment to stimulate their wild behaviors.