We are pleased to announce that our 23rd annual symposium SAGA23, which had been scheduled to be held in 2020, will be held online on Sunday, December 5, 2021. Broadcasting from Miyazaki City Phoenix Zoo, the host of SAGA23, is also planned. Latest information is available here: We look forward to welcoming you !


SAGA (Support for African/Asian Great Apes) is a consortium founded in 1998 with three main goals: 1) to conserve the natural habitat of wild great apes; 2) to enrich the lives of those in captivity, and; 3) to bring an end to the use of great apes as subjects in invasive studies. Note: as of autumn 2006, all invasive biomedical research on chimpanzees in Japan was stopped completely; all chimpanzees formerly involved in biomedical research have now been retired and are housed comfortably at Kumamoto Sanctuary, run by Kyoto University.

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Statement against the inappropriate rearing and exhibition of chimpanzees

We provide this statement in seven different languages. Select a language below and see.

On July 16, 2016, there was a report that a chimpanzee infant, named “Purin", made a stage debut at "Miyazawa Theater." ( The report claimed that Purin appeared on a ride, to quote "Mr. Miyazawa said Purin is more than perfect, and has the potential to be a star. I want her to become an initiator to attract tourists to Aso."

In November 2015, "Support for African/Asian Great Apes (SAGA)" published a statement against the inappropriate artificial rearing of Purin, born on September 22 2015, at Aso Cuddly Dominion. This statement appeared on our website and was sent to the Director of Aso Cuddly Dominion, Mr. Eiji Kamiyama.

We have also issued statements against the inappropriate use of great apes in the entertainment industry on three previous occasions December 2006, October 2007, and November 2012. In these past statements, we have repeatedly stated the following:

Inappropriate care of chimpanzees, especially through artificial rearing, results in serious problems in their social development. It is highly inappropriate to train a chimpanzee for an entertainment show in this anthropomorphic way. It is particularly problematic to isolate the infant from the other chimpanzees. It is far better, for both public education and for the chimpanzee, to show the natural life of an infant chimpanzee living with its mother and friends. This give an important message to the public.

Regardless of our previous claims, the current situation has arisen, and the repeated appearances of Purin on a TV program suggests that the inappropriate care and training that have been used in order to have Purin perform on stage, still continues. We, SAGA members, express strong concern about the acts taking place in Cuddly Dominion. Further, in the Miyazawa Theater, there has been an accident that resulted in injury to a person during the animal show. We suspect that this accident was caused by the unnatural training of an 11-year-old male chimpanzee to behave like a human for the show. We are worried that similar accidents will occur in the future if the current situation continues.

Chimpanzees are endangered wild animal and are listed in CITES Annex I (species in danger of extinction). They are also listed as EN (endangered) by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In Japan, chimpanzees are listed as a species belonging to Hominid in the Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Act and the Welfare and Management of Animals Act. In 2013, the following was added to the Conservation Act, that every person shall “enhance scientific knowledge of the animal and plant species applicable to this law". Also, in the Animal Welfare Act, it is clearly stated that "every person shall treat animals properly by taking into account their natural habits".

The International Primatological Society (IPS) prohibits the use of nonhuman primates in the entertainment industry, including appearing on shows. Such international standards should also be complied with in our country. The presentation of Purin on this show distorts the public perception of chimpanzees and obstructs the promotion and public understanding of the social nature of chimpanzees. It gives the incorrect impression that chimpanzees can be reared as pets. We strongly protest the appearance of chimpanzee Purin in the Miyazawa Theater and urge all the staff to promptly deal with it.

July 18, 2016
Support for African/Asian Great Apes
(Transleted in English with assistance of Dr. Anna Wilkinson)


The Great Ape Information Network (GAIN), coupled with SAGA, is dedicated to ensure the optimal welfare of great apes in Japan. Over the last decade, GAIN has set up an online database listing each individual captive great ape within Japan. By maintaining this database, GAIN is able to aid the nationwide relocation, reproduction and re-socialization program, maintenance of genetic diversity in the captive population, and post-mortem utilization of great apes. You can access up-to-date population information at the GAIN website:

May 15th 2012, is one of the most memorable in the history of SAGA. On this day, the last three chimpanzees still housed at a biomedical research institute were finally transferred to Kumamoto Sanctuary to live out the rest of their life in peaceful retirement. These three chimpanzees, female Candy and two males Musashi and Shoubou, were captured in the wild and taken to Japan as infants. Now, at long last, able to see the blue sky, to walk on the bare earth, to touch, laugh with and even fight their new group mates again, three decades after first arriving in Japan. Please click the button below to see how they are gradually returning to a more natural, more social life – a real chimpanzee life.

Read Their Story

Photo: Candy steps on bare ground for the first time in three decades (© Kumamoto Sanctuary)

Statements & Messages

Seriously Big News


SAGA holds an annual symposium within Japan. Except for particular specified sessions, attendance is free, with no prior registration required. Please join us! At recent symposiums, SAGA has additionally focused on promoting awareness of good welfare practice, in order to enrich the quality of the lives of animals with whom we share the planet other than great apes, including monkeys and prosimians and even elephants.

with HOPE 2008.11.15-18
with HOPE 2007.11.17-19
with COE symposium 2003.11.13-15
with COE symposium 1999.11.16-22
SCCS 2000
SCCS 2002
Join us and make a good difference!

Essentials of Effective Enrichment

What is Enrichment?

Environmental enrichment is the process of manipulating and enhancing the environment for captive animals in order to increase physical and mental activities. By doing so, their normal, species-typical behavior is promoted and psychological well-being is improved. The aim is to create an environment that helps to recreate natural life, as much as possible and as close as possible to their real life in nature.
Well-Established Enclosure

Nothing is more appealing and enriching captive chimpanzees' life than a well-established enclosure aiming to resemble wild habitat. We believe that chimpanzees' life in captivity begins when we, human caretakers readily provide the most elementary needs to our closest relative, such as to live in social groups where they can interact freely with each other: they can touch, smell, and laugh even fight as they would in the wild while also free to enjoy the benefits of sun, earth, lush vegetation and water.

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Tips to Increase Gathering and Foraging Time

Wild chimpanzees spend almost one third or half of their day gathering food and foraging. In comparison captive chimpanzees tend to spend much less time feeding, partially because keepers provide their food in a set-time schedule. In order to increase gathering (collecting) and foraging time we have installed a range of feeders and set up different devices.

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Social Enrichment

Chimpanzees are social animals; in the wild, they live in social groups where they can interact freely with each other. We shall encourage social interaction among captive chimpanzees to simulate their natural lifestyle.

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