Sanctuary for Chimpanzees and Orangutans to Celebrate 25th Anniversary with Event in Miami, Florida on Nov 10, 2018

Aug. 14, 2018 – The Center for Great Apes, a non-profit sanctuary for chimpanzees and the only orangutan sanctuary in North America, is marking its 25th year of providing great apes care with dignity in a safe, healthy, and enriching environment. In celebration of this momentous occasion, the Center will host an event on Saturday, November 10, 2018, from 7:00 P.M. until 9:30 P.M. at the Key Biscayne Beach Club in Key Biscayne, Florida.

The path to creating the Center for Great Apes began due to Miami-native and Founding Director Patti Ragan’s experience volunteering on a rehabilitation project for wild orangutans in the rainforests of Indonesian Borneo. In 1990, after her volunteer time in Borneo, Ms. Ragan was asked to foster a four-week-old infant orangutan and soon after, a three-month-old baby chimpanzee in Miami. Knowing that, ultimately, her wards would have to live their adult lives at a sanctuary, Ms. Ragan learned that there were no sanctuaries in the United States that had orangutans or experience caring for them, so she decided to create one.  In 1993, the Center for Great Apes was launched in Miami, Florida, and in 1997 relocated to Wauchula, FL to 15 acres of tropical, wooded habitat, surrounded by orange groves and away from development. Today, the sanctuary now encompasses over 100 acres and is home to 21 orangutans and 31 chimpanzees, including Bubbles, Michael Jackson’s first and favorite pet chimpanzee.

The Center for Great Apes returns to its roots in the Miami for the 25th-anniversary celebration. Guests are invited to join Patti Ragan, board members, and staff who will share stories about the past quarter-century and how these experiences have impacted their lives and, more importantly, the more than 60 great apes who have resided at the sanctuary during that time. Internationally acclaimed wildlife expert and Zoo Miami’s Goodwill Ambassador, Ron Magill, will be the featured Guest Speaker for the event.

Event guests will be treated to an evening of musical entertainment, refreshing cocktails, and a wide selection of hors d’oeuvres. Patrons to the event will have the opportunity to bid on unique items in the silent auction, plus view one-of-a-kind art pieces painted by the great ape sanctuary residents. Tickets for the 25th Anniversary event can be purchased online at

Event Details


November 10, 2018


Key Biscayne Beach Club, 685 Ocean Drive, Key Biscayne, FL 33149


7pm to 9:30pm

The Center for Great Apes provides a permanent sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees rescued or retired from the entertainment industry, from research, or from the exotic pet trade. This is no small feat – great apes require a team of dedicated doctors and caregivers, as well as habitats that allow them to live out their lives fully and with dignity.

The Center includes eighteen, large, three-story high domed enclosures where the chimpanzees and orangutans live and play. The great apes’ habitats include lush, green surroundings and outdoor living areas that provide plenty of running room, climbing space and structures, and height for swinging through their environment, plus numerous toys, tubs, culverts, and enrichment devices. Attached to each habitat is a night house that provides a place to sleep at night, as well as a retreat from inclement weather. Residents are provided with an extensive mile and a half aerial trail way, which allows the chimpanzees and orangutans to travel throughout the grounds.

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