Featured photo: One of the residents of Chimp Haven, the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
Until recently, I’d never visited Chimp Haven, the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Keithville, where Chimp Haven is located on the grounds of Eddie D. Jones Park, is a 25-minute drive from Shreveport, and Chimp Haven only opens to the public a handful of days each year. When I finally made the trip to Chimp Haven to attend a Chimpanzee Discovery Day event (Discovery Days are the name given to the Saturdays when Chimp Haven opens its doors to the public, hosts tours and presents educational programs), I felt like an idiot for not doing so sooner. Visiting Chimp Haven is a powerful, life-changing experience that I would especially recommend for families.
2015 Chimpanzee Discovery Days Dates are March 21, April 18, May 16, June 20, October 17 and November 21. Discovery Days are held from 9 a.m. to noon except for festival events, which are held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Festivals will be held on April 18 (Spring Fling) and October 17 (Fall Festival). Admission prices are $6 for adults, $3 for children ages 6-12 and free for children ages 5 and under. Guests are encouraged to bring a contribution for the chimpanzees. Among the items needed are fresh or canned fruits and vegetables, unshelled nuts, peanut butter, sugar-free cereals, pretzels, sugar-free gelatin, pudding mixes, juice, syrup and Flintstones multivitamins. Learn more about Chimpanzee Discovery Days on the Chimp Haven website.
Separated by a water moat from Chimp Haven’s residents, visitors are able to view more than 50 chimpanzees, including seven youngsters, in natural wooded habitats. Staff members are available as interpreters to help guests identify the chimpanzees and their behaviors as they forage for food and interact with one another. Other activities available at Discovery Day events include make-and-take crafts for kids, greenhouse tours and a behind-the-scenes hayride.
It may be off of the beaten path, but the experience of Chimp Haven will reward those who make the trip. If you need more convincing, this video should do the trick: