A note from Founder Patti… and Knuckles

Posted in 11/10/2021

Knuckles (CGA)

From Center for Great Apes (CGA)

When I first thought of a sanctuary for one orangutan (Pongo) and one chimpanzee (Grub) who I volunteered to care for in the early 1990s… I had no idea what was involved, or even how to start it!  I was unbelievably naive thinking this would be easy.  However step by step, with the help of so many friends, donors, and volunteers, this sanctuary organization and location began to materialize.  When we moved five “little” great apes (ages 3 to 8) to Wauchula, it was so exciting to build and plan our future here for maybe 10 to 15 eventual great ape residents… but not more than 20!

In my wildest dreams, I never imagined we would care for over 70 great apes one day (now!) We went from an annual operating budget of about $150,000 for 5 young apes… to this fiscal year of over $2.3 million for 72 apes (27 orangutans and 45 chimpanzees). Yikes! Had I known this, I would have completely doubted our ability to do this, and run the other way.

However, what has kept us forging ahead is not only the support of so many who share our affinity and concern for these primates, but also the amazing individual apes themselves who each have a very special story and background.

Knuckles for instance.

Knuckles, born in California and diagnosed at UCLA with cerebral palsy, was an infant chimpanzee who arrived at our sanctuary when he was only two years old. No one knew how long he might survive with his condition since two other great apes diagnosed with this condition did not live past 2 to 3 years. I knew it would be a huge time commitment and an emotional risk to have this little fellow here, but we were determined to give him the best life possible… even if it was only a few years.

He has participated in physical therapy over the past 20 years, has had various chimpanzee companions, has received a great deal of special attention, and has expressed so much love.

His life and care have been supported by our members and donors, as have all the other amazing and wonderful sanctuary residents over the past 28 years.

As the Center expands now (with 18 additional great apes arriving this year), we need your support more than ever.  Giving Day for Apes is a significant way to help… not only to help us reach our $75,000 goal for the online event… but also to help “boost” us to win extra prize money.

Our supporters have been with us step-by-step along the way from Pongo & Grub… to over 70 other wonderful orangutans and chimpanzees.

We’re counting on your help again now with these next deserving great apes making their home at CGA this year!

Patti Ragan, founder of CGA

To know more about Giving day for apes (October 12)