Free at last! Lab chimps hug and laugh as they see daylight for first time in 30 years

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

By Daily Mail Reporter

Surreal: Three chimpanzees step out into the daylight for the first time in 30 years

This is the heartwarmingly human moment a troop of chimpanzees see daylight for the first time in 30 years.

Some of the 38 primates, who had been locked in cages for medical testing, injected with HIV and hepatitis, embrace and appear to smile before taking their first steps outside.

Their new-found freedom came after a 14-year battle to set the apes free from captivity after being taken from their mothers shortly after their births and brought to a research facility in Austria.

Testing ended on the apes in 1997, when the pharmaceutical company behind the research was sold and the chimpanzees were moved to a farm.

But the feat of introducing the chimps to the outside world was no easy task after their traumatising ordeal.

The readjustment period took keepers more than a decade - implementing careful techniques that slowly made them comfortable venturing beyond their four walls.

The footage, first broadcast by German television station RTL on September 4, shows two adult chimps staring in wonder at the grassy land that lies before them after the door to their facility opens.

Overjoyed: The apes embrace in a hug and smile before venturing out onto the grass together

Free at last! A chimp grins widely as he explores grassy terrain after decades in captivity

Is it safe? A chimpanzee tentatively waits inside after a door is opened to his freedom

The first chimp takes only a few steps outside before turning around and hugging an ape behind him. Overjoyed, they even appear to laugh.

Other apes behind them appear hesitant to follow in their footsteps but make their way out steadily, stepping into the grass and exploring their new-found freedom together.

Keeper Renate Foidl said: 'The chimps are incredibly happy. This is amazing, I have been waiting for this moment for so long.'

The lab chimps are now at the Gut Aiderbichl Animal Sanctuary, near Salzburg, Austria.


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