Q. May I visit?
A. Yes, we offer guided educational tours to the public depending on their membership level. There is a membership program that allows members two visits per year during the sanctuary’s Annual Spring Member Day and Holiday Open House. People who give a gift of $250 or more can set up a private, guided tour for up to four family members. Tours must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance and are held on Wednesdays, Fridays, or Saturdays at either 10:30 AM or 12:30 PM. Give us a call to schedule your tour. Click Here for membership information.
Q. May I bring my school or civic group for a tour?
A. There are educational tours available for school groups (middle school through college) and interest groups such as community civic groups, senior, and youth groups. College-level groups are asked to donate $15 per person and adult community or civic groups are asked to donate $25 and have at least 10 people in attendance. Junior high and high school students may tour the sanctuary for a donation of $10 per student or chaperone. Please schedule your tour with our office at least two weeks in advance. Tours are held on Wednesdays, Fridays, or Saturdays at either 10:30 AM or 12:30 PM.
Q. Where are you located?
A. In Wauchula, Florida just southwest of Orlando.
Q. Do visitors get to touch the apes?
A. No, visitors are not allowed to touch the apes. Chimpanzees and orangutans are many times stronger than a human and could potentially be dangerous. The sanctuary’s trained caregivers never go into the habitats or night houses with the apes.* The orangutans and chimpanzees are shifted into another area on a daily basis for staff to clean their habitats, night houses, and chute systems.
* The sanctuary is home to several handicapped apes who need special care: Knuckles the chimpanzee and Allie the orangutan. Knuckles has cerebral palsy as well as a seizure disorder and he requires physical therapy and hands-on care. Allie has Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) which has left her with the inability to use her legs or feet. Experienced caregivers help her to perform physical therapy exercises with the goal of improving her mobility.
Q. Do you breed orangutans or chimpanzees?
A. We do not breed apes at the sanctuary. With a life expectancy of over 50 years in captivity, it would be irresponsible to intentionally breed great apes and add more individuals to a life of captivity when there are already so many in need of rescue. Not all birth control methods are perfect, but to-date there have been no pregnancies or births at the Center for Great Apes sanctuary.
Q. Can the great apes at the sanctuary be released into the wild?
A. None of the apes at the sanctuary are able to be released into the wild. They were all raised in captivity by humans and lack the basic survival skills that would have been taught to them by their chimpanzee or orangutan mothers in the wild. And unfortunately, the rainforests and wild habitats are rapidly disappearing due to the palm oil trade, logging, and mining. Therefore, we provide permanent lifetime care to all of the residents at the sanctuary.
Q. Do you have Bubbles, Michael Jackson’s pet chimpanzee?
A. Yes, Bubbles is a resident at the Center for Great Apes.
Q. How is the Center for Great Apes Funded?
A. The Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, receives no government funding, and relies solely on the generosity of its members, private donors, and grants from animal welfare foundations. Donations made to the sanctuary are tax deductible as provided by law.
Q. How can I help the Center for Great Apes?
A. You can help the sanctuary in many ways! It is expensive to care for 45 orangutan and chimpanzee residents so monetary donations are always needed and appreciated. You could also support the sanctuary by volunteering, collecting wish list items, setting up and manning informational booths at local festivals or events. In addition, you could help by holding a fundraiser or spreading the word about the sanctuary and the important work we do.
A. I am interested in volunteering. What do I need to do?
Q. For information about volunteering, visit our Volunteer page.