Group to Move Two Remaining CWU Chimps to Canada - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Group to Move Two Remaining CWU Chimps to Canada

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ELLENSBURG, Wash. - A few familiar faces will soon be leaving Central Washington University. The organization that owns the two remaining chimpanzees at the school has decided they would be better off at another facility.

Chimpanzees have been a part of Central's campus for more than 30-years when Washoe, the first chimp taught to use sign language, was brought to Ellensburg. Since then, four other primates were added to Central's Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute.

But over the years, several of them died, leaving only two at the facility. Now, the organization The Friends of Washoe wants to move them to a facility in Canada so they can interact with more chimpanzees. It is a move that would improve their lives.

"The students and the faculty and the volunteers who have worked with that program have all really said that the health and well being of the chimpanzees has to be the highest priority. And this decision reflects that," said Linda Schactler with CWU.

Central says it would cost at least $2M to renovate the current facility so more chimps could be brought in, something that just is not feasible right now. Officials say once the chimps move out they're going to assess the 33 year old building, and find a new purpose for it so students will still benefit from the facility.