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A heartbreaking history

These chimpanzees have been through so much in their lives—from the decades of painful research they endured to civil wars in Liberia that resulted in the death of many of the original 400+ chimpanzees. Learn more about their tragic history and our efforts to give them the bright future they deserve!



Chimpanzees are obtained from the wild or pet owners and put into a laboratory in Liberia by a US-based organization. Hundreds of chimpanzees are held in this barren laboratory and used in invasive hepatitis B and blood cleansing experiments over the next three decades.


1989 - 2003


Two civil wars in Liberia, separated only by a few years, claim the lives of many of the chimpanzees because they are killed by militias or their caretakers are unable to reach them at times. Caretakers risk their lives to care for the chimps.




Research is steadily declining and the chimpanzees begin being retired from research and moved onto nearby estuary islands. Unfortunately, there is very little infrastructure built on the islands to support the chimpanzees’ care before they are moved there.




The laboratory closes and the last of the chimpanzees is moved onto the six estuary islands--Islands 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Caretakers continue to feed the chimps every other day.




Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States, with the support of dozens of other organizations and the government of Liberia, step in to take over care of the remaining chimpanzees when funding was no longer available. The organizations make significant improvements to the care of the chimpanzees, including daily feedings and additional birth control measures.





HSI Liberia has assumed responsibility for the lifetime care of the chimpanzees and continues to work to create a high-quality sanctuary for the former laboratory chimps living at Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia. We have made several additional improvements, including establishing a twice-daily feeding routine for the chimps, hiring a full-time veterinarian with extensive sanctuary experience who is able to monitor their daily care and provide leadership to the project, and creating long-term plans for permanent infrastructure on the islands.


Want to know more about the chimps? Contact us!

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