Monday, November 3, 2014

Chimp Haven a wild and rare opportunity outside Shreveport; Fall Festival will be Nov. 8

            This falls under wild and unusual rather than weird, and when they open their doors to visitors it’s a rare opportunity not to be missed.
            Just outside of Shreveport in Keithville, Louisiana, is Chimp Haven, an oasis where chimpanzees used in biomedical research go to retire. This National Chimpanzee Sanctuary is part of the federal plan to move chimps from the laboratory back to nature.
            Many of the chimps are elderly, many enjoy large habitats and some remain  in cages due to not being able to acclimate from a window-less concrete environment in which they had lived.
            Naturally, since these are wild animals, Chimp Haven is not open to the public. But several times a year they open their doors for a peek inside. The Chimp Haven’s Fall Festival will be Saturday, Nov. 8, the second of two yearly festivals held at the facility in the Eddie D. Jones Park off Highway 789. Events will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission prices are $6 adults, $3 children  ages 6-12 and free for children ages 5 and under. Activity tickets are 50 cents each.
            Activities include games and food, a local band, Cajun-Dixon Line, cake walks, a string maze, face painting, chimpanzee story time and behind-the-scenes tours. 
            Sanctuary visitors are encouraged to bring jars of peanut butter for the chimpanzees. The individual who brings in the most peanut butter will win a prize package that includes a behind-the-scenes tour.
            Check Chimp Haven before coming if weather starts to turn; they cancel for bad weather. The fall festival was rescheduled from October due to lightning and rain. To check on the fall festival status, call (318) 925-9575 and press 1 when prompted or visit Chimp Haven’s Facebook, Twitter page or website.
             Want to know more about Chimp Haven? I wrote a story on the facility for Country Roads magazine.

Cheré Coen is an award-winning travel writer specializing in the Deep South. She is also the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at

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