KOMO viewers pitch in to help chimp sanctuary

KOMO viewers pitch in to help chimp sanctuary
CLE ELUM, Wash. -- The seven chimpanzees that were rescued after spending as long as 35 years locked up in cages have made surprising recoveries.

Keith LaChappelle, the founder of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Cle Elum, has seven hungry mouths to feed. And he serves up a feast, day in and day out.

To say thank you, one chimp lets LaChappelle give him a back rub.

The established trust is amazing considering the chimps have spent most of their lives cowering in cages at a medical research lab.

"The last couple weeks we've noticed chimpanzees that we've never seen play before...play," he said.

LaChappelle cashed in his retirement fund to build the sanctuary, but in order to keep it running, takes donations from around the country.

"Just the idea of somebody doing something and following a dream resonates with people no matter where they are," said Diana Goodrich, who works alongside LaChappelle at the sanctuary.

And the current enclosure is just the beginning of the dream. Eventually they want to enclose several acres where the chimps can roam free.

After the initial KOMO News story aired, support from viewers who wanted make a brighter future for the chimps poured in. And on Thursday, KOMO News presented LaChappelle with $1,000 donation.

LaChappelle said he is grateful for the second chance his chimps have been given, as well as the second chance his chimps have given humans.

"It really is surprising that after 30 years of torture that they would forgive us and seek reassurance from us and be our friends," he said.