All over the world, animal testing is still taking place for a variety of purposes. Though some of this testing is for vital medical research, it is still hard to not the empathise with plight of chimpanzees like Hercules and Leo, whose story is presented to the viewer in immersive virtual reality (VR).
The Condition One VR app is available for free to Oculus Go users, and some of the latest content available on the app follows the story of the two chimps as they are released from the research lab where they have spent most of their lives.
Viewers will get an immersive viewpoint for the moment when the former lab chimps step out into a forest of trees for the first time. Also available is a companion episode titled ‘Sky’ which tells the story of nine female research chimps who have their first experience exploring a forest, with the open sky above them.
The chimps were freed and rehabilitated by Project Chimps, a non-profit organisation which works to provide homes for the 200 or more chimpanzees who are retired from medical research laboratories.
Hercules and Leo lived inside the Stony Brook University research lab since 2009, interacting only with researchers and animal handlers in a basement lab. The chimps were part of research into locomotion, forced to walk upright with fine electrode wires inserted into their muscles.
“Virtual reality is a medium that takes us outside of ourselves and into the experience of others,” said Casey Brown, Co-Founder of Condition One. “Project Chimps is able to provide a direct experience of being in close proximity to chimps experiencing freedom for the first time in their lives. Their individuality and intelligence becomes self-evident and will hopefully lead to a heightened awareness of how our actions affect the lives of our close relatives and help end testing on chimps and all animals.”
The story of the former research chimps can be streamed or downloaded from the Condition One app for a price of $1.99 (USD). The Condition One app is available on Oculus Go and Samsung Gear VR.
For future coverage of new and upcoming VR content, keep checking back with VRFocus.