Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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At the new Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Louise Grossfeldt with Jane Goodall & Zoo Director Cameron Kerr

Lou’s job is to supervise the primate division at Taronga Zoo which includes managing some of mankind’s closest relatives, the Chimpanzees and Great Apes. 

As with people, managing a community of Chimpanzees and a family of critically endangered Western Lowland Gorillas can be unpredictable, and quite often involves dealing with complex political machinations. Lou thinks that’s what makes them interesting – while some people may find it scary and overwhelming – Lou thinks it’s like looking in a mirror.

Intriguingly, Lou’s career has run in parallel with the alpha male of the Chimpanzee group, ‘Labutu’.

“He was just a young man when I started and I’ve enjoyed watching him grow and develop. I was only a few years into my zoo keeping career, and he was learning what it was like to be a young chimp – I remember thinking he came to the alpha male position quite young and I also fell into the supervisor job after only a few years working with primates.”

Under Lou’s leadership, the primate team works hard to ensure the zoo’s primate groups function both socially and behaviourally as wild populations do. These groups act as ‘insurance’ populations and are fundamental in the fight against extinction of their species.