KEITHVILLE, Louisiana — Chimp Haven is making room for more chimps.
The national sanctuary for retired, federally-owned chimpanzees is planning to expand and build additional habitats.
Extra habitats would permit the chimp sanctuary to take in at least 100 more chimpanzees who lived their lives as research subjects in federal laboratories.
Cathy Willis Spraetz, Chimp Haven president and CEO, told The Times (http://bit.ly/1KOMR3u) "There are over 300 federally-owned chimpanzees that have been retired by the federal government but they have no place to go. They're living in federal laboratories where they've spent decades of their lives."
Those chimps are retired and will no longer be used in research, she said. "They're just sitting there waiting for space at the sanctuary.
Chimp Haven would put two of the proposed new habitats against the border of the land allocated to it. And in a land swap deal, worked out with the parish, Chimp Haven will receive five acres of parish-owned land which would function as a buffer zone near the planned new habitats.
The parish's five acres are valued at $100,000, according to Caddo Commission documents. A mountain bike trail crosses the edge of the five acres.
Early on there were discussions about re-routing the trail if the swap were to take place. But Henri Wesley, Caddo's director of parks and recreation, says that's no longer necessary.
Chimp Haven isn't objecting to the parish's continual use the trail and is willing to exchange 19.31 acres on the other side of its facility for the sanctuary needs, according to commission documents.
"It won't interfere with any of our trails," Wesley said. "In fact it will open up an area that will be fenced where bikes on the trail can see over into the habitat."
Wesley said the deal will make Chimp Haven and the trails closer together.
The Caddo Commission has decided to vote on it Thursday when it will be voted on for final approval.
Information from: The Times, http://www.shreveporttimes.com