Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Center for Great Apes Tour

  When we were doing volunteer work for Reach the World, I wrote about a sanctuary that is nearby that houses a famous chimp.  Michael Jackson's chimp, Bubbles, lives there now.  The kids really got a kick out of that and asked me lots of questions about him.  Unfortunately at the time, I couldn't really answer because I hadn't been to the place he lived so I couldn't tell them.

  This past week that changed because we not only visited his home, we saw him in person and saw he is doing well.  I can't even describe how excited I was to visit where he does live, The Center for Great Apes.  It is very close by where we are this winter, but because it is not open to the public, you would never know it was there.  It is very discrete and on land that allows a beautiful place for the animals to live in a peaceful environment.

The center was started when it's founder agreed to take in an orangutan and it grew from there.  You can read the story here: History of the Center for Great Apes. In short, it is now a sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees. 
 We had a very small group with us from Thousand Trails that went for a private tour.  We rode over with new pickleball friends, Garth and Rosemary.  Since our group was so small, it made the visit feel very intimate.
 We were allowed to take pictures, but they asked that we not share them on the internet so I won't post them here.

 I can share that this was one of my top favorite things to do since we hit the road full time.  It was so much better than I ever expected.  So many times when we visit places where animals are housed, I have conflicting emotions.  I am glad they are safe, but at times it doesn't seem to be a way of life that I'd think is truly enjoyable for an animal.  That was not the case here at all.  This was the most impressive sanctuary we have ever visited as far as the thoughtfulness they put into the environment for the animals.

 On top of all that, we were able to get much closer to the animals than I had expected.  So close that it was overwhelming to me at times, because of the emotions that welled up inside of me.  I didn't even edit my pictures for a few days because of the swell of emotions that I was still feeling from the visit.  If you are in the area, get a group together and GO visit this place!  You won't regret it!

 We have been enjoying gorgeous weather here this winter which makes things like this even more enjoyable.  Living the life in Sunny Florida!