Chimp Haven Seeks To Expand

SHREVEPORT, LA (AP) — Chimp Haven wants to expand but it needs to work out a deal with the Caddo Commission to get an additional five acres of land for a buffer zone.

         The planned expansion permits Chimp Haven, a national chimpanzee sanctuary located in Keithville, to take in more federally-owned chimpanzees once they're retired. A Chicago-based donor is on board to finance an approximately $15 million project to build five additional habitats at Chimp Haven, which currently has three.

         "They (chimpanzees) are still waiting in the labs, waiting for us to have space so that they can come to the federal sanctuary to retire," said Cathy Willis Spraetz, the sanctuary's president.

         The Times’ Alexandria Burris reports the expansion would put two of the proposed habitats next to the border of property allocated to the sanctuary. And, the land Chimp Haven wants to use as a buffer zone includes a bike trail which would have to be moved.

         The Commission owns the land. The trail would have to be re-routed. Spraetz told the Caddo Commission's Park and Recreation Committee of the situation Monday.

         Commissioner Matthew Linn said he would support re-routing the trail if Chimp Haven pays for it. The trail would end at Chimp Haven's fence unless it was moved around it, he said.

         Spraetz told the commission she can't commit to doing that but there might be some opportunity to collaborate with the Commission.

         "I do think that our donor would be very willing and supportive to assist in whatever it may take for the parish to move those bicycle trails," Spraetz said.

         The cost of moving the trail has yet to be priced.

         Spraetz said there is another option, with less room available, if it's not economically feasible to expand in the direction planned.

         Henri Wesley, Caddo's parks and recreation director, said the parish may be willing to swap some land with Chimp Haven.

         "There's some area that Chimp Haven has we would not really mind swapping out with you all," Wesley said. "The swamp-like area over there — we wouldn't mind taking that and just making the trail through that part. We've already looked at it and we think it's a good idea."

         The parish will explore the legality of a land swap and other options for the use of the land as well as moving the bike.

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