Patti Ragan, founder of The Center For Great Apes

by | Sep 6, 2017

Patti Ragan—the founder of The Center For Great Apes, a 120-acre sanctuary in Wauchula, FL that houses nearly 50 chimpanzees and orangutans—recalls how she first became interested in great apes. Brooks-Mowgli-NoelleThat history, Ragan explains, dates back to 1984, when he volunteered on a rehabilitation project for orangutans in the rain forests of Indonesian Borneo. That experience yielded caring for an infant orangutan, which along with a chimp she ended up looking after—and not having success finding homes for them in zoos–prompted her to start The Center For Great Apes. Ragan describes the first incarnation of the Center, and its initial residents, and describes some aspects of the current facility. She also discusses some CFGA NEW LOGOfundamental differences between chimps and orangutans, and the challenges those contrasts can pose at the Center—for example, male orangutans live solitary, so each requires their own enclosure. Ragan explains how some of the residents arrived there, including animals previously used in research, former pets (including Michael Jackson’s chimp, Bubbles), and those who used to toil in the entertainment industry. With Hurricane Irma looming when this interview was conducted, Ragan addresses the preparations the center had been making for that storm. (


backerALSO: I spoke briefly with Pam Backer, Director of Shelter Operations at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, who outlined a variety of suggestions and tips for how to prepare our animals (and ourselves) for hurricanes, as Irma was bearing down on Florida. She discussed four shelters in Hillsborough County that could accommodate people and their pets. Her tips included writing the owner’s name and contact information on the inside of the pet’s collar with a Sharpie, as a protection in case the ID tag falls off. (

COMEDY CORNER: Jen Grant’s “Pet Chimp” (portion) (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play Name That Animal Tune today.


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