Allan Schmidt: Senior Keeper, Primates

As a Senior Primate Keeper, Al has cared for Taronga’s Chimpanzee community for more than 15 years, and been at Taronga for over two decades.

Taronga's chimp community is considered to be one of the most successful groups in human care in the world, and Allan’s experience and insights have been sought by global zoos to share the knowledge of managing this unique group.

He says that while favourites come and go over time, all the chimps have individual personalities and characteristics that develop as they grow.

Chimpanzee society is a complex web of politics between individuals and families. As they often resolve matters through aggression, these political dealings constantly ebb and flow and keepers must maintain a close understanding of the dynamics of the group at any point in time.

Allan says that despite being capable of extreme violence, the chimps also show incredible tenderness, and he’s currently been enjoying observing the boisterous and happy playful nature the youngest of the Taronga group, Sule.

“By displaying Chimpanzees in their most natural social environment, Taronga Zoo helps to give people an appreciation of these fascinating close relatives of ours. Once people have this appreciation they can make choices that will positively influence Chimpanzees in the wild”, Allan said.