17 Chimpanzees gave Zoo visitors a look at their new Chimpanzee Sanctuary for
the first time today.
world renowned primate group spent the morning climbing and exploring the newly
renovated exhibit which now includes giant towers up to 12 metre high, a
network of climbing ropes and hammocks for the chimps to enjoy, and new vantage
points where visitors can get closer to the animals.
Life Sciences Manager, Simon Duffy, said: “By the look of their reactions, I’d
say it has their full approval. It’s already been given a positive assessment by
the chimp’s greatest advocate, Dr Jane Goodall, when she inspected the exhibit
during her recent visit.”
Goodall also sent a message for today, saying “Taronga Zoo's chimpanzee
community is well respected around the world. This new exhibit is very exciting
and is filled with potential for the chimpanzees. I have come to know these
chimpanzees well and I wish I was there today to see how they first react to
their new home”.Mr Duffy said: “We’re really proud of this exhibit. It’s an example of the very
best in exhibit design, involving expert keepers, vets, engineers, behavioural
biologists and our own volunteers, who helped weave a 180 kg hammock out of
fire hoses that our youngest chimp, ‘Sule’ made sure he was the first to
visitor side of the exhibit is just as impressive. You can literally come face
to face with the chimps by crawling into a special glassed tunnel system, test
your strength against the powerful primates in a pretend game of tug-of-war,
and special sound buttons awake all your senses so you can hear some of their
unique vocalisations including a ‘wah-bark’ warning”.
also have a special ‘mesh curtain’ that allows us to divide the space so that our
keepers can introduce new animals into the group or give some of the family
members a ‘time out’ from each other if the need arises.”
The makeover began in 2009 after the Chimpanzees were
moved to a temporary exhibit for the duration of the renovation. Once complete,
the chimps were gradually moved back, travelling in family groups to maintain
the famous social structure of the group.
Mr Duffy said: “Our chimp group act and live like
their wild counterparts and they have the social and political complexities
that make up wild chimp communities, so moving an entire group of powerful and
intelligent chimps is no mean feat.
“These two successful moves are a triumph for our
primate keepers who not only moved these wonderful creatures safely but ensured
their environment enabled them to maintain the full range of complex Chimpanzee
“Not unexpectedly, the tone of the move each way
was set by the group’s grand dame, Lulu, who at 59 was the only chimp who
didn’t require an anaesthetic, simply walking into her travelling container
because of her great confidence in her keepers.
celebrate this momentous occasion and further develop Taronga’s conservation
efforts we’ve recently announced a five year partnership with the Jane Goodall
Institute to support the development of the Tchimpounga Rehabilitation Centre
in the Republic of Congo. The goal of the Centre is to release Chimpanzees back
into their forest home. Two of Taronga’s skilled staff are currently in the
Congo helping care for the chimps.
full details on Taronga’s Chimpanzees, ideas for community support for
conservation and a stunning historical photo gallery by photographer, Rick
Stevens go to: www.taronga.org.au/chimps