Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History


In 1959, the United States Air Force captured dozens of baby chimpanzees in Africa, transporting them to Alamogordo, New Mexico, where they and their offspring were to endure a grueling life as the ultimate human stand-ins. From experiments in space travel and high-velocity crash tests, to pharmaceutical testing and hepatitis and AIDS research, to roles on the silver and small screens, these original Air Force chimpanzees and others that followed gave their lives to benefit humankind - and now a few extraordinary people are working to give those lives back.
~ from Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History, on the PBS program Nature,

This documentary shows some of the dedicated humans who are trying to rescue our closest cousins, the chimps. Far from Equidorial Africa, these chimps have spent their lives in captivity, as entertainers and as research animals. Outside Montreal, Gloria Grow has built a private sanctuary for chimps infected with HIV.


The organization, Save the Chimps, is currently rescuing 266 chimpanzees from the Coulston Lab from a lifelong plight in cages. With the acquisition of the Coulston Lab, planning began for the expansion of the Florida facility to accommodate the New Mexico chimps.

Construction of 11 additional three-acre islands, each linked to indoor accommodations by a land bridge, is under way. The natural environment gives the chimpanzees a comfortable home in which to socialize and rebuild confidence shattered by countless years spent in small cages.

See a video clip of award-winning filmmaker Allison Argo takes us behind the scenes of the film. This clip features the filmmaker discussing her motivation and some of the challenges she faced while filming.