Everyone likes a story with a happy ending, no matter how tragic the beginning.
For 18 years Terry the chimpanzee lived in isolation without any chance to socialize with other chimps or animals at the Las Vegas Zoo. The zoo was the subject of years of campaigning by PETA and local animal activists for allegedly inhumane treatment of Terry and the 150 other animals kept there.
“Terry’s existence is akin to a life sentence with no parole—even though he has committed no crime,” PETA Director Debbie Leahy had said during a protest appealing for Terry’s release back in 2007.
In September 2013, the zoo closed down after all its zookeepers walked off the job.
Terry was then taken in by Save the Chimps, a non-profit in Florida that gives lifelong homes to chimpanzees rescued from research laboratories, the entertainment industry, like zoos, and the pet trade.
“When Terry first arrived, he was very afraid of other chimpanzees. He didn’t seem to understand how to speak chimpanzee,” wrote Save the Chimps in an update about a year after Terry arrived.
Over time, Terry was slowly introduced to the other chimps and became comfortable with them.
Terry was ultimately introduced for the first time to “Jeanie Mama,” an older female chimp who had spent 40 years in a research lab. A few weeks ago, the sanctuary took a video of the two holding hands that has captivated hearts over the internet.
According to Save the Chimps, the pair bonded instantly and have been inseparable ever since.
As they were introduced “they went to each other and hugged,” Molly Polidoroff, executive director at Save the Chimps sanctuary, told ABC News today.
Save the Chimps is home to over 250 chimpanzees that live in large groups on 12 separate 3-acre islands. Chimps are highly social animals and typically live for 40-60 years.
Here’s an original news report from Terry’s rescue back in 2013.