Tearjerker alert! Get your tissues ready because while we think of ourselves as pretty tough, it took about 2 seconds for us to “get dust in our eyes” while watching this video.
Both beautiful and devastating, a group of chimps released from their lonely lives in laboratories get to see the sun for the first time in their lives. They had been locked up for 3 decades.
New hope for freedom
It’s hard to think about the torture these animals endured. Some of it they couldn’t even be aware of because they had been born in the lab and that’s all they knew.
But an animal’s instincts are enough to tell it that certain situations are just not right.
While mankind has benefitted hugely (and that goes for nearly every one of us) from animal research, new methods and models make it unnecessary to continue using chimpanzees.
In 2013, all chimps in U.S. labs were set to be released thanks to a new law that closed a loophole in the Endangered Species Act (although it remains to be seen if it happened as quickly as it should have).
A few years later, not much had changed for most chimps since there weren’t enough sanctuaries to take them in and they certainly couldn’t be released back into the wild.
This particular video shows a group of chimps freed even earlier, from an Austrian lab, in 2011. (The U.S. has been late to the game when it comes to animal rights and research.)
If that’s the case, then they had spent decades being used for HIV and hepatitis research by drug companies. And while they had been removed from research years before, they stayed locked up with no place to go, still never seeing the great outdoors.
Into the light
But eventually, the chimps got lucky – animal rights activists helped locate a place to live out their days.
Photos and videos from the day they were transported to their new home spread far and wide over the next few years, showing the newly free chimpanzees coming out of their enclosures and catching their first glimpse of the world outside.
They had no idea what fresh air felt like or what grass was – at least not from experience.
But it was clear that as soon as most of them got outside, they knew they were where they belonged. And we can only hope they don’t have the ability to reflect too much on where they had been or for how long.
This particular group of chimps had been placed in a sanctuary in Germany.
And while we don’t know too much about it, they would be able to roam free, play, and decide for themselves when to eat, sleep, and play.
They had all been in a laboratory for 30 years – so they’d no doubt need time to adjust.
Driving home the point
Whether you find it heartwarming or heartbreaking, a few scenes at the end of the video could make even the most stalwart person shed a tear, no matter how ambivalent they feel about the animals.
As three chimps peek out the door, they seem to know that the hard life is over. And even more, they seem to know this is a time to celebrate.
Then, one turns around and gives a huge hug to another, as if to say “we’re finally free!”
And THAT was when we lost our cool.
The amount of comprehension and emotion these amazing animals are capable of makes it hard to think about what they endured.
Be sure to scroll down below to catch a peek at these chimpanzees and their reaction to being freed.
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