Keith LaChappelle, Founder
In May of 2002, Keith LaChappelle read an article in Discover magazine about the lives of chimpanzees in biomedical research and the need for sanctuaries to care for them once they were released. Keith had always cared deeply about all life on this planet, and learning about the plight of these chimpanzees was a life-changing experience for him. He wondered if he could apply his professional skills of managing major construction projects to build a sanctuary home for chimpanzees. Keith carefully researched the feasibility of starting such a project. He spoke to many people and traveled to several sanctuaries – learning everything from policies and procedures to the gauge of steel used for caging. On one of these trips, he met Billy Jo, a chimpanzee who had finally found sanctuary at the Fauna Foundation in Quebec after a lifetime of abuse in entertainment and research. Looking into Billy’s eyes transformed Keith’s desire to “do something” into the realization that he had found his calling. Keith worked diligently not only to build the physical structures for the sanctuary, but also to build a sustainable non-profit; and he saw this work through to the arrival of the chimpanzees in 2008. Keith held the position of Founding Director for about a year after the Cle Elum Seven chimpanzees arrived and then served as a board member. He now lives out of state, but the chimpanzees are always happy to see him when he is able to visit!