After spending nearly her entire life in captivity, a chimpanzee named Vanilla was finally able to see the open sky for the first time. The touching moment was captured on video by the sanctuary Save the Chimps, which shows Vanilla in awe, gazing up at the open and vast sky above her.

Vanilla spent the first years of her life in a biomedical research lab in a tiny cage “suspended from the ground,” according to Save the Chimps. She was rescued in 1995 and sent to the Wildlife Waystation in California, but all her homes had a cage roof, where she was still kept in an enclosed space — until the organization was recently closed.

After a quarantine process, Vanilla and other chimps from Wildlife Waystation were introduced to the larger community at the Florida sanctuary and are now “fully integrated,” according to Save the Chimps. When Vanilla is “not exploring the island with her friends, she can usually be found perched atop a three-story climbing platform surveying her new world,” said Halloran.

The sanctuary – dubbed “Florida’s wildest retirement community” – offers “life-long care” for more than 220 chimps rescued from research laboratories, the pet trade, and the entertainment industry.

Vanilla’s story is a heartwarming reminder of the importance of animal welfare and the joy that freedom can bring. It is also a testament to the work of organizations like Save the Chimps, who are dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating chimpanzees who have been exploited by humans.

If you are interested in learning more about Save the Chimps or donating to their cause, please visit their website at