São Paulo, Brazil
It is the pioneer and the largest Great Apes Sanctuaries among the four affiliated to the GAP Project. It is also the largest Sanctuary of great apes in Latin America. It was founded in 2000 by businessman Pedro Ynterian, who maintains it to this day.
It currently houses around 250 animals, 45 of which are chimpanzees and other small primates, birds, big cats and bears. The Sanctuary has an area of five hectares and 63 enclosures for chimpanzees – some with 1000m2, divided into 14 complexes. The facilities are prepared to expand and receive other animals that are rescued from mistreatment situations.
The sanctuary’s permanent team has two veterinarians and 20 caretakers, who accompany the daily lives of chimpanzees and other animals and develop environmental enrichment activities, always aiming at improving the quality of life in the captive environment.
Most of the chimpanzees at the Sanctuary of Sorocaba carry some history of abuse by humans, being observed as physical and/or psychological traumas marked for the rest of their lives.
In circuses, they were exploited in the form of slave labor in which they were physically attacked, castrated and had their teeth extracted in a totally archaic way. These conditions meant that they were kept subjugated, so that they could be used in presentations to the public.
Life in a zoo causes serious psychological trauma in great apes, caused by loneliness (not seeing, hearing, living with another of their kind), by confinement in an extremely restricted territory (the legislation that determines the size of the enclosure is obsolete in terms of respect to the size that offers real well-being to chimpanzees) and by the stress of intense exposure and harassment from the public.
The chimpanzees who arrive at Sorocaba Sanctuary show positive behavioral changes in a short time, as they become part of a large community of their own species and are cared for with great respect and dedication by the dedicated employees. In the Sanctuary, each chimpanzee is an individual being with its intrinsic characteristics and personalities. For us, chimpanzees kept in human care must have, at the very least, freedom of choice about when they will feed, in which part of the enclosure they want to stay, see/hear others of their species, where they want to sleep… And also be part of a community of their own kind, so that they reach a level of real and adequate wellfare, which we believe to be something close to happiness itself.