A Louisiana university says the first group of nine retired chimpanzees from a Louisiana research lab has arrived at a new animal sanctuary in the north Georgia mountains.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Project Chimps near Blue Ridge, Georgia, announced the move Thursday in a joint news release.

The university said the chimps that arrived at the Project Chimps sanctuary Thursday will be followed by many transfers to eventually relocate all 220 chimpanzees from New Iberia, Louisiana.

Project Chimps has said the New Iberia Research Center was among the first non-federal research programs to arrange to release all of its research chimps.

University officials say they've been planning retirement and sanctuary for its chimpanzees for more than two years, and "the vast majority" were never part of any research.