Chimpanzees In Need

A campaign led by NAPSA focused on securing sanctuary homes for captive chimpanzees.

The Victory that Inspired More

In late 2019, it was a rescue and grassroots funding effort like no other: a large number of chimpanzees in peril at the onset of a global pandemic, with no sanctuary space available. Despite the obstacles and devoted to the belief that when animals are counting on you, failure is not an option, the Chimpanzees In Need team garnered the support of thousands of generous donors and rescued 40 chimpanzees by the end of 2022.

The Backstory

The Wildlife Waystation, an animal refuge located outside of Los Angeles, unexpectedly closed in 2019 due to financial difficulties. At the time of closure, 42 chimpanzees, most of them formerly used in medical research, were living there, along with over 430 other wild and domestic animals. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife took over operations and successfully rehomed most of the animals, except the chimpanzees.

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There are only a handful of accredited sanctuaries able to care for chimpanzees, who are extremely strong, smart, and socially complex, and require specialized care and housing. The North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance was brought in to help locate new homes and lead the campaign to save these chimpanzees in need.

Between 2019 and 2023, the Chimpanzees In Need fundraiser raised over $4.7M and succeeded in rehoming all the chimpanzees to accredited facilities, where they are thriving. Our emergency effort to rescue chimpanzees at the Wildlife Waystation was a huge success, but our commitment to help chimpanzees continues.

What Lies Ahead

There are more populations of chimpanzees throughout the U.S. that raise the concern of experts, and who are expected to need emergency placement soon. Chimpanzees In Need was developed as an emergency response to the lack of available space in accredited sanctuaries, but with strategic planning and collaboration, solutions for future placements can be proactively developed. As chimpanzees permanently leave harmful captive situations in the U.S., NAPSA is proud to seek solutions to better ensure their welfare.

In 2023, Chimpanzees In Need ended as a fundraiser and shifted to focus on chimpanzee capacity planning, to ensure that chimpanzees in captivity in the US can be successfully rehomed at accredited, reputable sanctuaries. In the same spirit of partnership and collaboration that has thrived in the campaign thus far, NAPSA will continue leading the effort, and will eventually include other organizations and stakeholders. 

This model of cross-sector chimpanzee capacity planning will be groundbreaking and may serve as a model for other endangered species in need.

Thank Them

The accredited sanctuaries selected to welcome the Wildlife Waystation chimpanzees are providing them a new beginning in healthy environments where they are thriving. Click to learn more about helping each - and the chimps they saved!

Media Coverage

Below are links to notable coverage of Chimpanzees In Need.

Nest in Peace

Two chimpanzees passed away of medical causes at the Wildlife Waystation before Chimpanzees in Need could rehome them. We take comfort in knowing their close friends now enjoy brighter lives in enriched sanctuaries.

  • Chuckles, 53, performed in the 1970's show Lancelot Link before arriving to Wildlife Waystation, where he acted as a grandfather to young chimp Magic. He passed away of a stroke in 2020.
  • Alyse, 33, was rescued from a biomedical research facility and was closely bonded to her identical twin Amber. Alyse passed away due to an abdominal tumor in 2022. Amber is now thriving at Chimp Haven.

Learn More by Watching 'A Checkered Past' (7 minute documentary film)

Learn more about how the chimpanzees came to live at the Wildlife Waystation and the urgency to rescue them by watching this 7-minute documentary short graciously donated by director Shaun Monson and featuring award-winning actors Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara.


We are grateful for those organizations who supported our rescue of the Wildlife Waystation chimpanzees.

A Kinder World Foundation

Official DDAF Grantee