Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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Photo by Tracey Dierikx
Fumo at play in Taronga's Chimpanzee Sanctuary

The Chimpanzee Sanctuary here at Taronga Zoo is becoming something that closely resembles a day-care centre.

With Sude and Liwali both only a matter of months old, and Fumo just over a year old, as well as the ever-boisterous Sule and Sembe rounding out the crèche, there is never a dull moment for keepers... or for their mothers for that matter!

Those of us with young children know how much care and attention our little ones demand, and these young chimpanzees are no different. Constantly pushing the boundaries of what they can and cannot get away with, forever requiring supervision, and always in need of love, comfort, and nourishment.

Ah, the life of the ape mother is always exciting!

Of course, Kuma, Shiba and Lisa have all done this before. They know how to raise strong, healthy babies to adulthood, and they are implementing skills they learned from watching their own mothers, and other mothers around them.

So much of chimpanzee life is about observing and practising. Young Fumo, Sude and Liwali, even at this tender stage of life, will be absorbing the sights, sounds, and smells of the Sanctuary, and watching keenly the way the community goes about its business.

Fumo is geting stronger and more confident by the day and is beginning to try new and exciting foods.

As the weather gets hotter, keepers are offering cool treats to our chimps as part of their dietary enrichment schedule. These can include chilled flavoured tea, frozen apple puree chips, or whole coconuts straight from the fridge.

Fumo is enjoying these new food items, and increasingly, he is venturing further and further away from his mother Kuma to reach them. Sude and Liwali would be watching Fumo, as young chimps do, and learning that these frozen treats are good to eat.


Chimpanzees live in very complex communities, much the same as we do as humans.

Their communities are dominated by an alpha male, who will, after long and often strenuous campaigns, attain his position through a mixture of politics, favourable bloodlines and brute force. He will command the respect of all of the other chimps in the community.

But there will always be those who would like to take his position away from him. These are the beta males, and they will always be scheming and plotting their way to the top.

Having three young males born into our community here at Taronga over the last year means that in a decade or so there may well be a struggle for power, as these youngsters grow, and seek control of Taronga’s chimpanzee community.

- Primate Keeper, Simon Hersee

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