The future of Chimps Inc. is still being negotiated between the embattled founder and the management that wants to move the sanctuary’s seven apes to a research facility in Iowa.

Chimp Inc.’s lease with sanctuary founder Lesley Day ended May 10. Day started the organization on her Tumalo property in 1995 and continued to lease space to the sanctuary after relinquishing control in 2017.

Day and the sanctuary recently agreed to a month-to-month lease in order to give all parties additional time to work out the best arrangement for the chimpanzees.

“They did accept my offer to let them stay on a month-to-month lease,” Day said. “Hopefully everything will be settled soon.”

Day intended to evict the organization over disagreements about the sanctuary’s mission and who should operate it after several incidents that included chimpanzees biting off the fingers of workers. In response, Chimps Inc. management said it would move its seven chimpanzees to the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative, a research facility in Des Moines, Iowa.

The plan to move the apes upset Day, who has since supported a new Bend-based nonprofit organization called Freedom for Great Apes.

Day has expressed her hope that Chimps Inc. would come to an agreement with Freedom for Great Apes to allow it to take over the sanctuary and care for the chimpanzees. Day signed a long-term lease with the new organization that will go into effect if the group takes control of the sanctuary.

“The team at FGA has far more experience in successfully caring for rescued chimpanzees and in operating great ape sanctuaries,” Day previously told The Bulletin. “Because of my confidence in these people, I signed a long-term lease with them that will allow FGA to care for the chimpanzees at the sanctuary for the rest of their lives.”

As Chimps Inc. and Day continue to negotiate, another complication has emerged.

A chimpanzee sanctuary in Texas filed a legal complaint in March demanding the return of two chimpanzees in the care of Chimps Inc. if the Tumalo sanctuary moves forward with its plan to move the apes to Iowa.

Primarily Primates Inc., a chimpanzee sanctuary in San Antonio, is trying to stop Chimps Inc. from moving two chimpanzees, Emma, 17, and Jackson, 18, who came from the Texas sanctuary.

Chimps Inc. took in Emma and Jackson from the Texas sanctuary in March 2007, but with the agreement that they would return to Texas if Chimps Inc. ever dissolved or needed to find a new home for the chimpanzees, according to court documents.

Chimps Inc. is refusing to return Emma and Jackson and would rather move them and its five other resident chimps to the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative in Iowa, court documents show.

Klaree Boose, a pro tem anthropology instructor at the University of Oregon and a member of the Chimps Inc. board of directors, wrote in a court filing that she believes Emma and Jackson would suffer if they were removed from their social group and transported to Texas.

Boose said she wants to see all seven chimps moved to the facility in Iowa, where they will be comfortable in outdoor enclosures and not caged or subjected to invasive research.

“In my professional opinion, ACCI’s facility will provide a perfect location for Emma and Jackson’s (and Chimps Inc.’s other five chimps’) care and continued rehabilitation,” Boose wrote. “ACCI’s facilities will provide the chimpanzees with exceptional housing and outdoor space.”

Day also submitted a court filing to share her opposition to the possibility of all the chimpanzees moving to Iowa.

“A move will be emotionally damaging to the chimpanzees,” Day wrote. “Imagine being uprooted from your home of 23 years and sent to a strange place surrounded by people you don’t know, and asked to perform tricks with puzzles to get a reward.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, kspurr@bendbulletin.com

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