Center for Great Apes Fundraiser at ‘Gardens’ set for Nov. 9

Clyde, the chimpanzee, pictured here in before and after photos

Clyde, the chimpanzee, pictured here in before and after photos

The Center for Great Apes will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Nov. 9 with a special fundraising event at Pinecrest Gardens.

The Center for Great Apes is a nonprofit sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees that was started in Miami and is now located in Central Florida. The fundraising event will include an art show and sale, music, silent auction, food and beverages, and guest speakers Patti Ragan, primatologist Bob Ingersoll from the film Project Nim, and Steven Wise, the animal rights attorney and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project. Tickets are $50 per person and all proceeds go to the Center for Great Apes. Details are at <>.

Clyde, the chimpanzee in the before and after photo, is one of 45 apes housed at the Center, They include apes that were used in research labs, in movies and commercials, and several, like Clyde, were once pets. All have been rescued by the sanctuary. Clyde had been locked in a garage cage for four decades prior to his rescue.

“When Clyde arrived, he could hardly walk or climb,” said Center founder Patti Ragan. “After two years of rehabilitation and encouragement, Clyde can not only walk and climb, he can run. He is healthy and happy and meeting other chimpanzees for the first time in his 47 years.”

The Center for Great Apes was founded by Ragan in 1993. She recognized the need for a permanent sanctuary to provide lifetime care for orangutans and chimpanzees in desperate situations. The sanctuary is located on 120 lush acres and has enormous habitats. It has more than 5,400 feet of elevated walkways for the apes, is award-winning and is life changing for the apes that have been brought there.

Whether used in entertainment or kept as a pet, chimpanzees and orangutans quickly out-power their owners. After literally being stolen away from their mothers as infants, the apes are then discarded as young as seven years old because of their strength and unpredictable behavior. Most end up in dismal situations.

“The use of apes in entertainment, research or as a pet is cruel and creates an insatiable demand for lifetime care of animals that can live for 50 years,” said South Florida resident and Center board member Patrick Harris.

“The worst part is that when apes are lucky enough to be rescued by the Center they usually come with nothing, with no way to pay for their care, which costs about $18,000 annually for each ape.”

The special event on Nov. 9 is just one way that the Center for Great Apes raises funds. The top-rated sanctuary depends on grants, donations and memberships to support the apes. Annual costs average $1.3 million.

South Florida residents can learn more at the 20th anniversary event at Pinecrest Gardens on Nov. 9. Tickets are $50 per person. There will be an art show featuring works by the apes and by celebrated artists. The art will be on exhibit at the Gardens Gallery Nov. 9- Dec. 30.

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