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Feds cite two GFAS accredited great ape sanctuaries with Official Warnings

A chimpanzee in an enclosure. Photo shared courtesy of Unsplash.

Two Great Ape sanctuaries remain accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) despite being cited with Official Warnings for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act.

GFAS is an accrediting organization that requires a high standard of animal care, management, and governance at sanctuaries, according to their website.

This year, two GFAS accredited sanctuaries are facing scrutiny over their animal care.

Save the Chimps

In February, the USDA cited Florida sanctuary Save the Chimps with an Official Warning and slapped them with a $9,000 fine for repeated violations. The most serious allegations include instances of medical neglect and premature euthanasia.

The USDA Official Warning alleges a chimp named Nigida sustained a fractured toe that was dangling off her body and she was observed chewing at the bone. Nigida was not seen by a veterinarian for two days. The veterinarian said the toe would likely “come off on its own.” More than three weeks later, the wound had not completely healed.

A 13-year-old chimp that was formerly a pet arrived at the sanctuary and refused to eat. The facility waited five days and then treated the chimp with a single dose of anti-anxiety medication, according to the report. The chimp continued to be anorexic and when the sanctuary failed to determine the cause of the anorexia they euthanized her, four months after she arrived.

Chimp Haven

In July, Lousiana’s Chimp Haven was cited with an Official Warning from the USDA. The USDA Warning details two incidents where a chimp escaped its enclosure.

In a separate incident, a chimp named Cleopatra sustained a knee injury but was not seen by a veterinarian. Ten days later, the chimps were moved inside due to the weather and a fight broke out. The chimps focused their aggression on Cleopatra and she sustained a traumatic spinal injury that resulted in her legs no longer working, according to the report. Cleopatra began using only her arms to get around. The facility euthanized her eighteen days later.

GFAS suspension and revocation policy

The GFAS policy on suspension or revocation notes that a facility’s accreditation may be suspended or revoked for a number of reasons. The policy states a facility may lose their GFAS accreditation if “the organization has been cited by a national, state/province or local authority for noncompliance with legal or regulatory requirements.”

A USDA Official Warning is much more serious than a USDA violation and often indicates ongoing noncompliance issues. Despite these serious issues, both sanctuaries remain accredited by GFAS.

GFAS has not returned a request for comment.


Save the Chimps Official Warning:

Download PDF • 264KB

Chimp Haven Official Warning:

Download PDF • 230KB


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