brent_resize37 year-old Brent, a retired laboratory chimp who paints with his tongue, has won a $10,000 prize in an art competition sponsored by the Humane Society in the United States.

What will Brent do with $10,000? The prize money will benefit Chimp Haven, Brent’s sanctuary in the US state of Louisiana.

For the contest, six sanctuary members of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance submitted an original piece of artwork created by one of their resident chimpanzees. Designed to bring attention to both the great abilities of these chimpanzees and the sanctuaries that care for them, the competition attracted more than 27,000 online votes, and entries were reviewed by noted primate researcher and conservationist, Jane Goodall.

Jane Goodall said ““All of the art was beautiful and unique, just like chimpanzees! It was difficult to choose. It’s so important that the public support all of these sanctuaries in their mission to provide exceptional care to chimpanzees, and other primates, who have suffered through so much.”

In 1997, the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR) published a report regarding a formal admission by the NIH of a chimpanzee “surplus.” The report concluded that there is a “moral responsibility” for the long-term care of chimpanzees used in scientific research.
The National Research Council advised the federal government to stop breeding chimpanzees and to work with private funding sources to establish sanctuaries for the retirement of research chimps. In December 2000, President Clinton signed the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act CHIMP Act into law, which was of course not without flaws. This bill provided federal funding to establish a chimpanzee sanctuary system, but the retirement age of a chimp was completely at the discretion of the laboratory and under certain circumstances a “retired” chimpanzee could be returned to research. While chimps in private sanctuaries had protection from being recalled, it was not until December 2007 that the “Chimp Haven is Home Act” amendment was signed into law which finally prohibited returning chimpanzees to research once they are retired into federal sanctuary.
In another breakthrough, this year the National Institute of Health, the largest funder of medical research in the US, announced it was planning to stop using chimpanzees in laboratory experiments, said its decision to retire more than 300 chimpanzees from research would help usher in a “compassionate era” of scientific research.

And now for the winners: (click on the images to enlarge)



BrentChimp Haven (Keithville, LA) Brent is 37 years old and has lived at Chimp Haven since 2006. He is protective of Grandma, Chimp Haven’s oldest resident. He loves to laugh and play. Brent paints only with his tongue. His unique approach and style, while a little unorthodox, results in beautiful pieces of art.


Winner of 1st place public vote: $10,000 grant.



CheetahSave the Chimps (Ft. Pierce, FL). The Artist formerly known as Cheetah: Cheetah, estimated to be born in the 1970’s, lived alone in a laboratory for 19 years and endured over 400 over biopsies. He was rescued by Save the Chimps in 2002 and has since discovered his passion for painting.

Cheetah's Painting

Winner of 2nd place public vote: $5,000 grant and
winner of judged prize (Dr. Jane Goodall’s selection): $5,000 grant.



RipleyCenter for Great Apes (Wauchula, FL). Like many chimpanzees used as actors, Ripley was eventually dumped in a roadside zoo. There, he witnessed the shooting death of his brother and two other chimp companions after human error resulted in the chimpanzees’ escape. Ripley found sanctuary at Center for Great Apes and impresses his caretakers with his resilience and forgiveness.

Winner of 3rd place public vote: $2,500 grant.

Winner of 3rd place public vote: $2,500 grant.



JamieChimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (Cle Elum, WA). Jamie is the boss of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. She has a very active mind and loves activities, which include occasional art projects. She often prefers non-traditional surfaces for her work such as toys and walls. It is difficult to imagine how she survived the years of boredom and fear in biomedical research.


Jamie's entry wins a $500 grant for her sanctuary.

Jamie’s entry wins a $500 grant for her sanctuary.



JennyPrimate Rescue Center (Nicholasville, KY). Jenny was born on May 19, 1995, at LEMSIP, a former biomedical research laboratory in New York. In 1996, Jenny was rescued by the Primate Rescue Center and now spends her days playing with her 10 chimpanzee friends, or napping on a platform in the evening with her favorite treats.

Jenny's entry wins a $500 grant for her sanctuary.

Jenny’s entry wins a $500 grant for her sanctuary.



PattiChimps, Inc. (Bend, OR). Patti was born September 11, 1982 at Marine World Africa USA in Vallejo, California. Raised by humans and made to perform for crowds of people, she retired in June of 1996 when Chimps Inc. opened its doors to provide her with a lifelong home where she enjoys her chimp family.

Patti's entry wins a $500 grant for her sanctuary.

Patti’s entry wins a $500 grant for her sanctuary.

Images via the Humane Society

About The Author

Olga Hughes is currently pre-occupied with fairy tales, fantasy, misanthropy, medieval history and the long eighteenth century. She has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Victorian College of the Arts and is currently majoring in Literature and History at Deakin. She has contributed to websites such as History behind Game of Thrones, The Anne Boleyn Files and The Tudor Society.