Bridey Heing
March 29, 2015 6:04 am

For animals in captivity, life can be pretty hard and very lonely. But every now and then an animal gets a second chance at happiness! For Iris the chimpanzee, who spent her early years as a family pet before being taken in by Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Georgia, her second (or rather third) chance at happiness came along three weeks ago when she was transferred to the Save the Chimps sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida. It was there that she met Abdul, a fellow chimp, and the duo have fallen in love.

Iris’ story is similar to a lot of other exotic pets. She was born in Florida, purchased by a family, and eventually sent to live at Chestatee. Although she was originally one of several chimps at the zoo, her companions passed away over time, leaving her alone since 2012. The poor chimp quickly lost interest in usual activities, opting to stay inside a cramped indoor enclosure rather than climb and explore.

Although the staff at Chestatee tried to find Iris an alternative home where she could be happier, they struggled to find her a place to resettle. Eventually PETA learned about her lonely life, and a volunteer took video that suggested Iris was depressed and possibly neglected — an accusation vehemently denied by her previous caretakers.

Nonetheless, once Florida-based organization Save the Chimps caught wind of Iris’ predicament, they quickly agreed to take her in. The huge sanctuary is a chimp’s dream, with a dozen 12-acre islands each populated by rescued chimps. Iris had a new home, and a lot of brand new chimpanzee friends.

“The staff had decorated her room with streamers and welcome signs and lot of toys and blankets and she immediately made herself a nest,” Jen Feuerstein, the sanctuary director, told NBC.

When Iris was introduced to her new home, she adapted quickly! She started climbing and engaging with her new island-mates, and was clearly happier in her new digs. But meeting Abdul, a 40-year-old chimp, was a game changer.

“She kissed him and he groomed her,” said Feuerstein. “They immediately fell in love.”

Save the Chimps has a great website with lots of information about Iris including her zodiac sign (she’s a Virgo), her favorite things (big fluffy blankets, romaine lettuce, and chimpanzees), and her personality traits (reserved, secretive, mellow). Sounds like someone we’d like to hang with! We love blankets and lettuce and chimpanzees too!

Now Iris gets to spend her days playing and exploring with her boyfriend Abdul. It just warms our hearts to know that she is back in the company of other chimps and has found that one special chimp to spend her days with.

If you’d like to give money to help support Iris’ care, you can do so here

(Images via)

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