(ANIMAL VIDEO) AUSTRIA — Tissue alert! After 30 years locked in isolation, 38 chimpanzees retired from working as HIV and hepatitis test animals and were let outside for the first time in their lives. The delight of the newly free primates is evident in the video of their first steps outside. Watch the touching video of the chimps as they celebrate their hard-won freedom from testing. — Global Animal
The Sun, Ellie Ross
The animals hugged each other in delight before they took their first steps outside.
Emotional footage, below, shows how they reacted to their new surroundings.
The outing marked the end of a 14-year bid to re-integrate the 38 primates after they spent most of their lives cooped up inside.
One commentator said: “They hugged as if saying, ‘We’re finally free’. And then they laughed.”
The chimpanzees were taken from their mothers shortly after their births and brought to a research facility in Austria.
Scientists kept the animals in isolation and gave them HIV and hepatitis. Their ordeal finally ended in 1997 when the pharmaceutical company behind the research was sold.
The chimps were moved to a farm where keepers tried to reintroduce them to life outside — but the process was not easy.
The animals had spent so much time inside they were confused when shown patches of grass — and repeatedly threw them away.
But finally their moment of freedom came. And their keeper Renate Foidl said: “The chimps are incredibly happy. This is amazing, I have been waiting for this moment for so long.”
The use of chimps for scientific research has been controversial.
Earlier this year, a hot debate was sparked in New Mexico when animal rights activists demanded the release of 180 working chimps to a sanctuary.