Our Story

By Topo, age 51 (approximately)

My name is Topo. In autumn of 1993, I arrived at Chimps Inc.

The birth of our sanctuary began like this:

Lesley flew from Oregon to upstate New York in 1993 to meet my owner, who claimed to be a chimpanzee expert.  Upon arriving at the grimy mobile home, she saw the small cages that the other chimps and I called home.  We had no outdoor access, and the barred windows were so filthy that no sunlight shone through.  When Lesley wandered down the dingy hallway, my eyes locked with hers and we instantly formed a connection that would change our lives forever.

In the two years that followed, Lesley prepared a home for me and made legal arrangements for my journey west.  She purchased indoor cages at an auction from Central Washington University and converted her four-car garage into my new indoor playhouse.  The space was complete with a large outdoor habitat.

I entered sanctuary life on October 10, 1995.  After settling in and getting comfortable with my new indoor environment, they opened the door to the most beautiful outdoor enclosure.  For the first time since becoming a victim of the horrible exotic animal pet trade, I felt “free.”  I stood for a moment, taking it all in, and then I sprang out onto the lush green grass and began to run.  I raced from corner to corner of this glorious new place, pant hooting in excitement as I stretched my legs, arms and mind for the first time. Finally, I had the choice to feel the earth under my feet and the sun on my skin.

Little did we know that this was just the first of more rescues just like mine.

The sanctuary is now home to seven other chimps, all of whom were rescued from the pet and entertainment industries. We’ve shared the sanctuary with a few others who left us too soon: two chimpanzees, Kimie and Maggie, one snow leopard, Rose, and three lynx, Katia, Alfie, and Linky, all of whom will stay in our hearts forever.