Great Ape Sanctuary In Brazil

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These chimpanzees are safe after years in abusive captivity.

Thanks to Pedro Ynterian they are being cared for and rehabilitated at his private sanctuary near Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The biologist and activist uses his own money to run the sanctuary.

But even though the animals are out of danger, they are still extremely damaged.

[Pedro Ynterian, Chimp Sanctuary Founder]:
"Sometimes I make a joke saying that this place is not a sanctuary, but a mental hospital because I'm dealing with mad creatures, creatures that were traumatized in zoos following years of public exposure... they carry out repetitive activities, they are aggressive, they eat excrement, they wound themselves… All that stems from their mental disorders from having been displayed in zoos."

The sanctuary is home to 50 chimps rescued from circuses and illegal zoos around the country.

Ynterian, who is global chief of the Great Ape Project, or GAP, is currently fighting a legal battle to have 26-year-old chimp Jimmy, seen here, freed from a Rio de Janeiro zoo.

The case is still pending.

The 70-old businessman also receives other circus animals such as lions, tigers and bears from all around the country.

Since 2005, nearly half of Brazil's 26 states have forbidden circuses from using great apes and other animals in their shows.

Now, following mounting pressure from animal rights groups, a bill is being debated in Congress to make this law federal.

Ynterian thinks that Brazil could become a global role model for animal rights.

[Pedro Ynterian, Chimp Sanctuary Founder]:

"I think Brazil (may become an) example. Since today Brazil is an important country in the international scene. Brazil is everywhere in the world participating in political and economic activities. We can become and create an example for the world of what needs to be done with these creatures (great apes)."

If chimps can be grateful, these animals surely are -- to Pedro Ynterian and his sanctuary.

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