CJ the chimp left Las Vegas on Tuesday and will have a new home at a sanctuary in Bend, OR. This comes after she broke free twice from her cage and ran wild in a northwest Las Vegas neighborhood.
The Chimps Incorporated sanctuary director took CJ in a white Ford transit van from Arthur's gated backyard. They will be driving 14 hours to Bend with a stop in Reno to get CJ's tuberculosis test results. The director has toys, books and food for CJ to keep her entertained.
"We have several outdoor play structures and enclosures," said Marla O'Donnell from Chimps. Inc. "They are wide open and big. The chimps get a chance to run, stretch and play."
O'Donnell said a behavior specialist will work with CJ to make her feel at home with the seven other chimps there.
"We will give her all the time she needs to adjust," O'Donnell said. "I think our other chimps will take her on very nicely."
"That's what we wanted," said Lee Watkinson, who is CJ's caretaker. "The fact we found it too late for Buddy is heartbreaking, but at least it's in time for CJ."
Watkinson took care of CJ with his fiancé Timmi Derosa. Derosa is now facing charges for CJ's escapes. Watkinson called those charges unfair.
"Nobody said anything for six years," Watkinson said. "We kept them safe and took care of them well for six years and then this happened."
Everyone's focus right now remains on CJ's happiness. While Watkinson will miss seeing her every day, his only regret is he didn't move her sooner.
"She will be there for 30 years and she's lucky," Watkinson said. "It's probably the best place she will ever be."
CJ's caretakers will pay $1,200 a month to keep her in the sanctuary. To find out more about her move or to give donations for CJ's stay click here.
Chimps Inc. has never had any animals escape its habitat. However, an intern sued the company after she was mauled by a chimp in 2008. The judge threw out the case, because the intern had signed a liability waiver.
Copyright 2012 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.