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"They came down the hill through the timber, some of them running on their hind legs. Just running," Barker said after the ceremony. "They were so happy. One climbed a tree clear to the top. They played with balls and they ate bananas."
The Texas sanctuary had closed because of overcrowding and money trouble. Other sanctuaries took the rest of its animals, including 11 chimpanzees. None would take Doc, JoJo, Murphy, Flick or Pierre because they are infected with the HIV virus. One also has hepatitis.
Barker, 88, gave $380,000 to help create the area, which is named after him, and to support the animals for a year. On Thursday he gave another $120,000. Thursday's donation is enough to cover food and care for all five animals for two years.
The chimpanzees had spent most of their lives in a laboratory that closed in 1998. At Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio, they had a small room and a small outdoor enclosure, Chimp Haven spokeswoman Karen Allen said. Now they have 2 1/2 open acres.
Like Barker, who was 83 when he retired from "The Price is Right" in 2007, the chimps are old for their species but in great shape. Murphy is 42, Doc is 38 and JoJo, Flick, and Pierre are 36.
"I was shocked," Chimp Haven veterinarian Raven Jackson said. "Because of their age, they are considered geriatric males. But they are a very, very healthy, robust group," she said.
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Written by Janet McConnaughey/AP