Follow former medical chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, as they leave isolated captivity and step outdoors for the very first time.
In 2009, two chimpanzees originating from the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, were ‘leased’ to Stony Brook University in New York. It was there the unfortunate animals were subjected to years of invasive and painful medical testing. Exposed only to researchers and a sole animal handler, Hercules and Leo had fine-wire electrodes implanted into their muscles which forced the animals to walk upright to conduct locomotion research.
Nearly 18 years later, the tortured creatures were finally rescued from isolated captivity by Project Chimps, a non-profit organization responsible for the release of over 200 chimpanzees being used a test subjects in various medical facilities. Now the dedicated animal rights organization is showcasing the results of their incredible work via a two-part VR docu-series.
Shot in collaboration with Condition One, a VR studio developing advanced technology towards animal awareness, Project Chimps takes users into the heart of the Project Chimps sanctuary in Blue Ridge, Georgia as Hercules, Leo, and a host of other freed chimpanzees are introduced to their new, natural habitat for the first-time. 360-cameras capture every moment as these animals, many of whom never having seen sunlight, made their first steps into the outside world.
“Virtual reality is a new medium to extend our understanding of others. It takes us outside of ourselves and into the experience of others,” said Casey Brown, Co-Founder, Condition One and Co-Director of the series. “Project Chimps is able to provide a direct experience of being in close proximity to chimps experiencing freedom for the first time in their lives. Their individuality and intelligence becomes self-evident and will hopefully lead to a heightened awareness of how our actions affect the lives of our close relatives and better inform our decisions to end testing on all animals.”
Condition One is the same studio behind This is Climate Change, a four-part VR docu-series that made waves at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.
Project Chimps is available now for $1.99 via the Condition One app on the Oculus GO and Samsung Gear VR. Download the Condition One app free on the Oculus Store.
Image Credit: Project Chimps