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Surviving escaped chimpanzee headed for sanctuary in Oregon

Surviving escaped chimpanzee headed for sanctuary in Oregon

By Rikki Cheese. CREATED Aug 3, 2012

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Calamity Jane is headed to a new home.

The chimpanzee, known as "C.J." will spend the rest of her life at Chimps, Inc., an animal sanctuary in Bend, Oregon.

It's a bittersweet decision for her caretakers, Lee Watkinson and Timmi Derosa. They raised Buddy and C.J. like children. 

Watkinson says, "Right now, we're the only people, the only family she has, but when she goes to Oregon she's going to have seven full-time family members that are there all the time."

Derosa adds, "It's very hard. The hardest, almost the hardest thing is, is we didn't think that there was a perfect sanctuary. This would have been a perfect sanctuary for Buddy."

Buddy was shot and killed by a Metro officer after he and C.J. escaped their enclosure three weeks ago. Derosa and Watkinson found the sanctuary after his death. Derosa says the staff takes great care of of the seven primates who live there now. She says, "They play with them all day. She's even going to be brushing. They make them brush their own teeth every day, so it's going to be fabulous."

Animal rights advocate Linda Faso applauds the move and says, "I think C.J. will fit in beautifully, and I think she'll be happy there."

The non-profit sanctuary has large outdoor enclosures, indoor playhouses, tri-level structures to climb and lots of toys.

Faso says, "A sanctuary, at least they have some semblance of a chimp's life. It's not like the wild. It never will be, but at least they can form their social world."

Derosa says C.J. will be a pampered primate, with treats, toys and television. Plus, says Watkinson, her "parents" will visit. He says, "I feel like it's a college. I feel like we're sending her away to college."

C.J.'s owners are planning a big going-away party for her before she leaves for her new home about a month from now. The public will be invited. As soon as the details are worked out, we'll post them here on our website.

Rikki Cheese

Rikki Cheese

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Rikki Cheese is currently an anchor and reporter for Action News.