Albion, IN - After weeks of welding and construction many staff, faculty and students from Ivy Tech Community College in Fort Wayne gathered with their families at Black Pine Animal Sanctuary on Saturday to witness a milestone event. "Tarzan", the sanctuary's resident chimpanzee, stepped foot outdoors for the first time since 2006, exploring his new outdoor space made possible largely by Ivy Tech's contributions of labor and equipment over the past few months.
Tarzan, a retired performer and the only chimpanzee known to be living in Indiana, has resided at Black Pine since 1995. In 2006 the 501c3 non-profit animal sanctuary was forced to relocate and rebuild. Tarzan and "Coby", another chimpanzee resident that sadly passed away in late 2009 due to complications of diabetes, were given a very spacious indoor house with skylights and large windows at the new site. However, the funds and labor needed to build an outdoor play space required a lot more planning and fundraising, culminating in this week's "reveal".
Though more work needs done to call the project "complete", the efforts of many in the community, including donated student labor from Ivy Tech Community College, made it possible to enable Tarzan a late fall look at the progress on his house Saturday morning.
More than 40 invited volunteers, donors, and keepers were on hand to witness the animal's first exploration of the habitat. Many were brought to tears as the chimpanzee hooted, jumped, climbed, and smiled.
Black Pine will host an open house for the public on Saturday, November 27 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. In lieu of admission, visitors are encouraged to make free-will cash and "wish list" donations. Many items will be available for purchase for the holiday gift-giving season as well. Although weather will determine if Tarzan can come outdoors that day, many other animals will be visible including Bengal tigers, lions, leopards, bobcats, llamas, reptiles and more.
All proceeds of the open house will help fund ongoing care throughout the winter months to more than 80 rescued former "pets" and retired performers. Black Pine provides "end of life" care to displaced exotic animals and works with more than 40 volunteers in carrying out this mission.
For more information call (260) 636-7383 or visit their web site at www.blackpine.org.