Raised in a biomedical research lab in New York, a chimpanzee named Vanilla spent her early life looking through the bars of a tiny birdcage. Vanilla tasted freedom in 1995, when she and 30 other chimps were moved to Wildlife Waystation. However, the sanctuary later closed, leaving Vanilla and her family’s future uncertain. Luckily, Save the Chimps stepped in, giving Vanilla her final forever home.
Vanilla is now 28 years old, and for most of those years, she hasn’t been able to see the sky from her habitats — at her first sanctuary, she lived in enclosures with cage tops. That all changed when she arrived at her new home. The first time she stepped outside the enclosure to explore, she was a little hesitant — until she looked up.
Seeing the open sky for the first time, Vanilla was in awe. She couldn’t believe how beautiful it was and how much she’d been missing out on by not being able to see it. She kept looking up as she wandered around and must have felt so lucky to finally be safe and free.
Now, Vanilla spends as much time outside gazing up at the sky as possible with her family group. She loves her new home so much and reminds us all to never take the simple things for granted, like being able to see the sky.