The bushmeat industry, the pet trade and deforestation all threaten wild Chimpanzees. These apes are only found in west and central Africa, from Senegal to Tanzania, where they inhabit tropical forests, woodlands and savannahs. The conservation of this species has been hampered by ongoing civil unrest in most of the Chimpanzee's natural range.
Taronga's Chimpanzee family is recognised internationally as one of the most significant in human care in the world. Taronga Zoo was one of the first to house and exhibit Chimpanzees as a group and has an extremely successful breeding record.
The Taronga Chimpanzee breeding program is part of global effort by zoos to maintain a genetically healthy population as an insurance against extinction in the wild. Taronga's breeding program has been successful with 13 offspring born in the last 20 years.
Taronga has also established conservation partnerships with the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) to promote the rehabilitation of orphaned Chimpanzees and their eventual release back into the wild. At Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Centre, Congo, the partnership has supported the construction of facilities, the purchase of equipment and the provision of veterinary support. JGI is building additional facilities in three islands in the Kouilou river to offer the chimps a more natural and larger setting.
Taronga Zoo staff also have travelled to Africa to assist with health assessments and behavioural studies of Chimpanzees prior to their release into the island sanctuaries, as well as to manage and oversee the construction of facilities. Taronga staff also supported the first release of Chimpanzees in Tchindzoulou island, Tchimpounga.