Within the walls of Chimp Haven sanctuary, the chimpanzees have freedom of choice. It’s a  key part of the sanctuary’s effort to restore a measure of control to the chimps over their lives. That means they can choose to sit around ... all day. Just chew the fat ... that is, if that’s what they want to do.

And without the pressure to move around and hunt for food, chimps in captivity are prone to being overweight. Obesity in chimps puts them at risk for the same types of ailments that humans suffer: heart disease, diabetes, hypertension. All of them can affect quality of life.

We filmed with veterinarian Dr. Corinne Brown and one of her new pupils, Sara Soda, to illustrate how the sanctuary is trying to counteract the sedentary lifestyle. Sanctuary staff have come up with novel ways to get the chimps to move a bit more than they might otherwise be inclined to do. It's still a choice: the chimps can opt out whenever they like.

Chimp Haven is proud that it has had several successes with its weight loss program.

The Wild Canadian Year

Wild Canadian Year

Visit our website to watch the series online, discover extra behind-the-scenes stories and view Canada's nature scenes in 360. Visit Wild Canadian Year

From CBC Kids

The Nature of Thingies