Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia

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Chimpanzees abandoned by the New York Blood Center receive food from local volunteers. Date
Chimpanzees abandoned by the New York Blood Center receive food from local volunteers.

The Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia, operated by Humane Society International (HSI), serves as a sanctuary and rehabilitation centre for chimpanzees rescued from various backgrounds, including the illegal wildlife trade and biomedical research. Established to provide lifetime care and rehabilitation to chimpanzees in need, the refuge houses over 60 chimpanzees who have suffered from exploitation and abuse.[1]


In 1974, researchers from the US nonprofit blood bank, the New York Blood Center, opened an experimental laboratory on the west coast of Liberia. Working with the Liberia Biomedical Research Institute, they trapped wild chimpanzees and used them to conduct research and drug trials.[2]

The chimpanzees were kept in cages at the Vilab II research facility outside the capital, Monrovia.[2] The researchers infected them with various diseases, such as hepatitis B and river blindness (an eye sickness caused by a parasite), so they could study the effectiveness of different treatments.[2]

Over the course of three decades, more than 400 chimpanzees were held in laboratory cages for medical experiments.[3]


The refuge was founded with the primary mission of offering a safe haven for chimpanzees rescued from these distressing situations. Many of the chimpanzees under the care of the refuge were formerly used in the invasive research experiments, enduring significant physical and psychological trauma.[4] Through its initiatives, the refuge aims to promote awareness about the plight of chimpanzees and advocate for their protection and conservation in Liberia and beyond.

Facilities and Operations

Situated in Charlesville, Liberia, the Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge encompasses spacious enclosures and natural habitats designed to mimic the chimpanzees' natural environment. The refuge provides comprehensive veterinary care, enrichment activities, and nutritious diets tailored to meet the specific needs of each chimpanzee.[5] Additionally, the refuge employs a dedicated team of caregivers and experts who work to ensure the well-being and rehabilitation of the chimpanzees.

Rehabilitation and Release Programs

In addition to providing lifetime care for chimpanzees unable to return to the wild, the refuge is actively involved in rehabilitation efforts for individuals deemed suitable for reintroduction. Through specialised programs focused on behaviour modification and socialisation, the refuge prepares chimpanzees for potential release into protected habitats, fostering their independence and natural behaviours.[6]

Support and Advocacy

The Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge relies on support from individuals, organisations, and donors to sustain its operations and expand its impact. Collaboration with local communities and government authorities is also integral to the refuge's efforts to combat wildlife trafficking and enforce regulations aimed at protecting chimpanzees and their habitats.

Recent Developments

In December 2023, the refuge underwent significant upgrades and improvements to enhance the quality of care provided to its residents. These enhancements include the expansion of facilities, implementation of advanced veterinary protocols, and the introduction of innovative enrichment programs to promote the physical and mental well-being of the chimpanzees.[7]

See also

  • Primate Portal

External links