Every so often, a video surfaces online that warms even the coldest of hearts. And the most recent video to have people reaching for the tissues is footage of research chimpanzees going outside for the first time. In the heartwarming video taken by Project Chimps, former laboratory animals get to experience life out of the lab at a sanctuary.

After being cooped up and tested on for biomedical research their entire lives, the chimps don’t know how to react to their new environment. However, once they take their first few tentative steps into their new world, they nervousness quickly transforms into pure elation.

To see how they reacted to the great outdoors for yourself, check out the video below:

To put the scale of how long these chimps had been in captivity into context, the group, which consisted of six males and nine females, were aged between 11 and 27. They were released into the Peachtree Habitat in North Georgia – a 236-acre sanctuary for former research chimps.

Ali Crumpacker, executive director of Project Chimps, said, “Imagine never having stepped outside your own home and only knowing carpet or your porch under your feet. That’s what it was like for these chimps.”

During their first experience outside, the females stayed outdoors for 45 minutes and the more adventurous males stayed out for 90.

Looking to the future, the aim for this group of chimps is to introduce them to other chimps at the sanctuary and eventually have them living in such a way that replicates their social structures in the wild. Better still, they will be joined by an additional 20 chimps over the first half of 2018.

Project Chimps is the most state of the art chimp sanctuary in the US and features a number of housing villas, a veterinary clinic, and a kitchen.

We hope these former laboratory chimps get the happy retirement they deserve.

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