Covering Louisiana

Aug 19, 2013 11:40 AM by AP

Chimp sanctuary: Expansion construction has begun

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The national sanctuary for retired federal research chimpanzees is expanding to bring in the 60 federally owned chimps remaining at a New Iberia laboratory.

Spokeswoman Ashley Gordon says work has begun to finish seven play areas left incomplete because construction costs skyrocketed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Attached underground bedrooms were finished before Katrina.

Gordon says that when the first play yards are done, some chimps can be brought from UL's New Iberia Research Center to Keithville, in northwest Louisiana. She says that's expected in mid-fall.

But money troubles loom. When Chimp Haven was created, Congress capped total federal support at $31 million. Gordon says about $700,000 remains. Chimp Haven and the National Institutes of Health are working on a proposal for continued support.

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