Vanilla, the chimpanzee, who spent 28 years in an animal testing lab before finally getting a new life, is touching people's hearts, and inspiring them to open their wallets.
Save the Chimps, an animal sanctuary in Florida shared a video on social media showing Vanilla being introduced to other chimps and seeing open skies for the first time in her life ... and it's sparked a huge wave of interest and donations.
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A rep for Save the Chimps tells TMZ ... Vanilla's viral moment brought in $48,600 in donations in just 4 days, plus a wave of new social media followers.
For context, Save the Chimps tells us they got $2,700 in donations the week before Vanilla went viral ... so the bump really stands out.
Save the Chimps says part of the $48,600 comes from merch sales, and about $10,000 has been donated from people who are adopting chimpanzees living in their sanctuary, which is one of the largest in the world.
The money's going to be put to good use ... Save the Chimps has 226 chimps, including Vanilla, and because these animals can live well into their 60s, care is not cheap. The sanctuary says donations are part of a $9 million annual budget that pays to maintain a 150-acre property with 12 islands where different groups of chimps live, plus daily meals, veterinary care, and more.
Vanilla was turned over to Save the Chimps a year ago after spending nearly 3 decades in an unfulfilling situation .. partly in a lab being used for animal testing for Hepatitis, HIV, and blood disorders and partly living in an unaccredited refuge with no grass. At STC, she's slowly been introduced to other chimps, who are welcoming her to their world.