SHREVEPORT, LA - There’s a unique retirement home just south of Shreveport.
It’s called Chimp Haven. Many people don’t even know it exists, but lots of primates do.
Chief Photographer Patrick Thomas and News Director Rick Erbach traveled to Keithville, about 30 miles southwest of Shreveport, to check it out.
“We currently care for over 270 chimpanzees, which makes us very unique,” Chimp Haven Colony Director Michelle Reininger said. “We are a sanctuary, so we're normally closed to the public, but four times a year we do open for what we call a chimpanzee discovery days.”
While it will definitely be fun to take a tour of the facilities, there will be numerous opportunities for learning, too.
“It's an opportunity for people to come in, watch the chimpanzees in their natural habitats, and just get a chance to see what we're all about,” Reininger said.
Around 9 a.m., the chimps begin their day, and that’s usually the best time to visit.
“That's when we do what we call our habitat releases, where we opened the indoor bedrooms, let the chimpanzees come out into the habitats,” she said. “The come down, they'll eat their food, and there'll be right down here for the public to enjoy.”
Each chimp has a unique personality, and Reininger said she really enjoys working with the ones that are sassy, like she is.
“I love just the opportunity to be with them, just to see what they can do every day because they’re so unique and they are so intelligent and they just bring me a surprise every day,” Reininger said.
There are four Chimpanzee Discovery Days this year. The first is this Saturday, March 16th. The other dates are in April, October, and November.
Check out chimphaven.com for more information.