Vanilla the Lab Chimp Sees the Sky for the Very First Time in Heartwarming Video

An incredibly touching video that will melt your heart has surfaced of a chimpanzee named Vanilla experiencing the outdoors for the very first time in her nearly 30 years of life on the planet.

The sweet footage was shared recently at the American Society of Primatologists symposium in Reno by Save the Chimps‘ primatologist, Dr. Andrew Halloran. In it, we see Vanilla being greeted with a huge hug by an alpha male named Dwight as she finally leaves her enclosure after quarantining with her sister, Shake.

chimps hugging
Photo: YouTube/Save the Chimps

Once Vanilla’s eventually coaxed out by her muscle-bound protector, she leaps into his reassuring arms and squeezes him tight before letting go and turning her gaze upward toward the sky. The look on her face before she wanders off to explore her new 3-acre island paradise is absolutely priceless!

Photo: YouTube/Save the Chimps

Vanilla, as it turns out, is a survivor of New York’s notorious Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP), which closed in 1997. She lived — or should we say “existed” — in the laboratory until she was 2 years old.

She was then transferred to a refuge of sorts in California with a group of other chimps but disappointingly ended up living there confined to a slightly larger enclosure until the facility went out of business in 2019.

Photo: YouTube/Save the Chimps

“In California, Vanilla lived with a handful of chimps inside a chain-link fence cage with no grass and very little enrichment,” Halloran told The Post. Basically, Vanilla had never been outside of a 5-foot cage or an enclosure the size of a garage until she arrived at the Save the Chimps sanctuary located in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Her new refuge is the final stop for 226 chimpanzees that have been discarded or rescued from situations that include laboratories, the entertainment industry, the exotic pet trade, and roadside zoos, according to the organization.

“Vanilla is settling in very well,” Halloran continued. “When she’s not exploring the island with her friends, she can usually be found perched atop a three-story climbing platform surveying her new world.”

Photo: YouTube/Save the Chimps

For his part, Halloran assesses the personalities of each primate that arrives at Save the Chimps to deduce which of its 12 chimp communities is best suited for them. He’s apparently very good at his job because Vanilla appears equal parts ecstatic and mesmerized as she experiences relative freedom for the first time ever.

“She gets along with all of the other 18 chimps on her island,” Halloran added, “and has a particularly playful relationship with the alpha male Dwight — from whom she steals food.”

Here’s to hoping this cheeky monkey has many happy years ahead of her to offset what she’s already been through. Check out her super sweet video below.

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