FORT PIERCE, FL (WFLX) - The largest chimpanzee sanctuary in the world is located right in our own backyard.
Save the Chimps, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing permanent care to rescued chimps, is located in Fort Pierce.
The 276 chimpanzees that call the sanctuary home are free to explore 150 acres worth of land.
Right now, there are still 19 chimps that need to be rescued from a defunct biomedical research lab in New Mexico and brought to Fort Pierce.
The organization held a fundraiser Thursday night hoping that money, along with donations from the public, will help make it all happen. "We took these animals from horrible conditions, and now they live in paradise in family groups," said caregiver Billie Jo Sessions.
It takes 72 full-time workers to keep the facility up and running. It is all donation-based.
The group is hoping to raise $50,000 by December to rescue the remaining chimpanzees. "It is critical," explained Philip Flynn, the executive director of the sanctuary.