CJ the chimp arrives safe to new Oregon home - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

CJ the chimp arrives safe to new Oregon home

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CJ the chimp at her new home in Bend, Oregon. (Photo from Chimps Inc.) CJ the chimp at her new home in Bend, Oregon. (Photo from Chimps Inc.)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

After leaving Las Vegas Tuesday, CJ the chimp arrived to a new home at an animal sanctuary in Oregon Friday. CJ gained public attention when she twice escaped from cages in Las Vegas.

Caretakers at Chimps Incorporated in Bend, Oregon said caretakers were awaiting CJ's arrival Friday, and were working to ensure a smooth transition into her new environment.

Workers from Chimps Inc. loaded CJ into a transit van Tuesday for her Oregon road trip. The 14 hour drive was delayed when results of a tuberculosis test at a stop in Reno took longer than expected.

Chimps Inc. agreed to take CJ after her highly publicized escape from her cage in July. CJ and another chimp named Buddy roamed a Las Vegas neighborhood before police shot Buddy and captured CJ.

While in temporary care at another Las Vegas property, CJ briefly walked out of her cage, but was captured quickly without incident.

The director of Chimps, Inc. expects CJ will be happy in her new home.

"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 was CJ's caretaker in Las Vegas. "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.

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