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Chimpanzee sees open sky for the first time, video from Florida sanctuary goes viral


A heartwarming video capturing the awe-inspiring moment when a chimpanzee named Vanilla first glimpsed the open sky has gone viral.

Vanilla, who had spent her entire life confined to a 5-foot-square cage, finally found freedom and a new home at the Save the Chimps sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida, United States. The sanctuary staff recorded the footage, showcasing Vanilla's looking up at the sky with fascination and exploring the surroundings.

The video has been shared on the sanctuary's YouTube channel.

According to the website, Vanilla spent its early years in a biomedical research laboratory, which closed in 1997. In the lab, Vanilla lived in a cage suspended from the ground like bird cages. Now, she will have a 3-acre space on the island.

Dr Andrew Halloran, a primatologist at Save the Chimps, told New York Post, "In California, Vanilla lived with a handful of chimps inside a chain-link fence cage with no grass and very little enrichment. Vanilla is settling in very well. When she's not exploring the island with her friends, she can usually be found perched atop a three-story climbing platform surveying her new world."

Vanilla was one of 30 chimpanzees relocated to the Wildlife Waystation in 1995, where she became a part of a small family group. Subsequently, Vanilla and her companions were transferred to California, where she resided in a larger enclosure at a refuge. However, the refuge closed its doors in 2019, leaving Vanilla in need of a new home.

In a remarkable effort, the chimpanzee sanctuary organised Vanilla's transportation, along with her group, to their new location, a sprawling 150-acre sanctuary. Last year, with the assistance of FedEx, Vanilla set out on a journey to her new home.

The video shows Vanilla's arrival at the sanctuary, where she receives a warm embrace from the alpha male named Dwight. After leaving her enclosure, Vanilla looks up in wonder at the vast sky before exploring the new island. The sanctuary is dedicated to providing a safe haven for 226 chimpanzees who have been discarded from laboratories, the entertainment industry, the exotic pet trade, and roadside zoos, as stated by the organisation.

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