Frequently Asked Questions

Learn about Fauna's residents and chimpanzees in general

The Fauna Foundation is not a zoo and is not open to the public for unstructured visits. We do offer Sanctuary Symposiums, which are educational tours in the spring and summer months where people may tour the sanctuary and, from a safe distance, have the opportunity to view the chimps in their outdoor facilities if the chimps make themselves visible.

Children under age 13 must be accompanied by an adult at our events. Those 13–17 years old must be accompanied by an adult (18 years or older).

There is no doubt that chimpanzees belong in their natural habitat in Africa. Unfortunately, there are several reasons why the Fauna Foundation chimpanzees cannot be moved to Africa.

First, the Fauna chimpanzees grew up in North America away from their families and have not learned the necessary skills to survive in the wild. Second, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) generally prohibits the movement of chimpanzees, who are classified as an endangered species, to different nations. Third, chimpanzee habitats in Africa are being destroyed at alarming rates and wild chimpanzees are being hunted for food. Chimpanzee sanctuaries in Africa are overcrowded and in need of assistance, they could not handle the additional burden.

Finally, many of the Fauna Foundation chimpanzees were retired from biomedical research and were used in the testing of human vaccines. For this reason, they have special needs and require specialized, more expensive care to ensure the health and safety of the chimpanzees and the humans who work with them.

You can adopt one (or more!) of the wonderful residents who live at the Fauna Foundation through our Adopt-a-Chimp program. You can also make a donation to help give the chimpanzees the life that they so greatly deserve.

You can also follow us on social media and share our Fauna posts with your friends and family. It’s only by raising awareness and educating people that we can affect positive change for chimpanzees and all animals.

Imagine that you had to live with the same group of people 24-hours a day for the rest of your life!

Some of the chimpanzees are consistently good friends. All of the chimps have social interactions with others such as playing, tickling, grooming and sharing food, but fighting between the chimps does occasionally happen.

Money raised through our Adopt-a-Chimp program goes directly to expanding the sanctuary, so that the chimps have more individual space and room to take a break from each other.

The Fauna Foundation is a true sanctuary and is therefore the permanent home for the residents who live here. The chimpanzees will never be used in another biomedical research experiment.

No. All of the male chimpanzees have had vasectomies before coming to the Fauna Foundation, and all of our females are on hormonal birth control as a secondary precaution. As a sanctuary accredited under the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), we do not allow breeding. Additionally Fauna Foundation does not believe chimpanzees belong in captivity and does not want to bring more infant chimpanzees into a captive life.

Yes. Wild chimpanzees in Africa usually travel up to 30 kilometers a day, with most of that time spent foraging for food. They live in groups of 20–100 individuals. It is impossible for a captive environment to mimic a natural chimpanzee environment, so we must always provide the chimps with new activities and enrichment to occupy their time and stimulate their interests. This is very challenging and even with all of our efforts, the chimps are occasionally bored.

We hope, with your help, we can continue to add excitement to the lives of the chimps and provide them with an enriching, constantly improving environment. Check out our shopping Wishlists to see the enrichment items we need for the chimps. We’d love it if you want to shop for them!

Humans share 98.4% of our genetic material — or DNA — with chimpanzees. Chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas. In fact, humans share more common genetic material with chimpanzees than African elephants share with Asian elephants.

Full-grown chimpanzees are five to eight times stronger than adult male humans. Chimpanzees are particularly strong in their upper bodies, and can pull up to 1,000 lbs with one arm.

No! Chimpanzee babies are very appealing and many people believe it would be fun to have a chimp as a companion. Chimpanzee babies, however, grow up to be large, strong and emotional adolescents. A full-grown chimpanzee is five to eight times stronger than an adult human and can easily hurt a person, even in play. Pet chimps almost always end up being put into cages, chained in garages, locked in sheds or sold into biomedical research once they become too much for their owners to handle.

Chimpanzees do many things that humans can do such as solve puzzles, use and modify tools, learn by observing, form alliances and remember past events. Some chimpanzee have acquired signs of American Sign Language and use them to communicate to humans and each other.

Intelligence in humans is measured by IQ tests but these are culturally biased and not an entirely valid measure of intelligence. Gardner theorized there are multiple types of intelligence such as bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, musical, linguistic, logical-mathmatical, etc., which indicates there are many ways for an individual to demonstrate cognitive ability.

To compare chimpanzees to children in cognition is not a valid comparison because they are different species. Chimpanzees are perfectly adapted to their environment, just as humans have evolved to adapt to our environment. There is great overlap because we are both adapted for sociality and problem solving.

Tatu was cross-fostered by humans and was immersed in American Sign Language (ASL). She acquired signs like a human child acquires signs. (Read more about Tatu.) Loulis learned ASL from his adoptive chimpanzee mother, Washoe, and his other chimpanzee family members. Loulis is the first and only non-human to acquire a human language (ASL) from another non-human. (Read more about Loulis.)

Yes they are! They continue to sign to their caregivers. Fauna Foundation, in collaboration with Friends of Washoe, ensures they have caregivers who are use ASL.

Loulis signs CHASE to the other chimpanzees, especially Binky to try to get a rousing game of chase going. HURRY is another sign that that has been observed quite often with both Tatu and Loulis. Tatu seems to sign HURRY a lot when the other chimpanzees do not seem to understand her or aren’t paying attention to her. Tatu signs SORRY to the other chimpanzees when they have a misunderstanding. Tatu also signs IN to caregivers because she’s ready to meet all her new friends!