TODAY   |  June 29, 2013

Hundreds of lab chimps to be retired

This has been a very good week for chimpanzees and the people who love them. The federal government decided to dramatically reduce their use in invasive biomedical research and retire hundreds of chimps who've been in labs for decades. NBC's Lisa Myers reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> good week for which i am pan sees and people who love them. essentially retiring hundreds of chimps who have been in labs for decades. we have the sanction ware where they go to hang out.

>> reporter: sunrise at chimp haven. a sanction ware in louisiana. henry at his usual post keeping watch. this place is completely devoted to enriching the lives of which i am chimps. aaron is in charge of keeping these inquisitive creatures challenged and engaged. listen to what happens when the chimps hear her coming.

>> it's worth it when you see how excited they get. you went the easy way , huh?

>> reporter: you are the most popular girl.

>> that's true. i did buy my way in with food. i think i can do most imitations now.

>> reporter: the most powerful moments here involve the new arrivals. after as many as 30 years in research labs, they were introduced to their new yard and saw the sky without bars for the first time in their lives. they look up, climb, look up again.

>> it looks like wonder to me and amazement in some cases, too.

>> reporter: amy helped found chimp haven.

>> it's emotional to me when i see that for the first time.

>> reporter: this is a wall walker. afraid to let go of the steel and concrete she's known all her life. others go into the forest with a new group of friends. it's what you expected or better?

>> better.

>> reporter: response to cameras and send it for a ride. retiring hundreds more lab chimps to a sanction ware will require tens of millions of dollars for a new facility. why should taxpayers or private individuals put out tens of millions of dollars to retire these chimps?

>> it's the right thing to do.

>> reporter: because of what they have gone through?

>> because of what they have gone through and what they have given to us and not by choice.

>> reporter: a taste of freedom and a new life for creatures so much like us. for "today," lisa myers , nbc news, louisiana.