The Center for Great Apes is a sanctuary covering over 100 acres of tropical wooded habitat with orange groves surrounding. It’s located in Wauchula, southern central Florida. It was initially only 15 acres but has now grown to its present size. Although the nonprofit organization was founded in 1993, it took another four years to look for the ideal site that was also affordable.
Patti Ragan spent several months doing volunteer work helping in the rehabilitation of wild orangutans in the Borneo jungle in 1984. Due to her experience, a bird park in Miami asked her to care for a four-week old orangutan which she in the end had to take in because the animal had nowhere else to go. She decided to put up a sanctuary for orangutans.
As it happened she was then asked to care for an infant chimpanzee which she found out would be sold as a tourist attraction at Universal Studio, Orlando. Now the desire was to put up a sanctuary not only for orangutans but for chimpanzees, too, she didn’t want the young chimp to be sold for entertainment.
With her kind heart and along with others who made the sanctuary possible, there are now more than 40 apes living in bliss at the sanctuary. The place is a permanent sanctuary for chimpanzees and orangutans who are no longer wanted as pets, retired from the entertainment industry or from research. They now live in a place they can call home.