At the Zoo: Chimpanzee
The Zoo’s commitment to chimpanzees began in 1965 with a male chimpanzee named “Herman.” “Herman” was born in Liberia, West Africa and unfortunately his story has a very sad beginning, but a much happier ending. An American working in Liberia found “Herman” in a bushmeat market after the small chimpanzee’s parents had been killed by poachers. The American rescued baby “Herman” and raised him as part of the gentleman’s family. When the family moved back to America, “Herman,” along with another chimpanzee “Guida,” were brought along too. As “Herman” and “Guida” continued to grow and become stronger, they were brought to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. “Herman” remained at the Zoo for over 40 years and saw many changes, including the rebuilding of the Zoo to create more natural exhibits. “Herman’s” gentle disposition made him a favorite among both Zoo guests and animal care staff alike.
Our current chimpanzee social group at the Zoo consists of a dominant male “Bahati,” and three adult females “Jamie,” “Twiggy,” and “Abby.” They are a tight unit and can be seen patrolling their exhibit several times a day as a group. “Jamie,” our oldest female, is a very smart chimp and she enjoys spending time watching the public.
Our newest addition to the group is baby “Keeva.” Keeva arrived at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo in March 2015 after her birth mother at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore was unable to properly care for her. She was matched with our adult female chimp “Abby,” known for her ability to foster infant chimpanzees. For the first five months of Keeva’s life, a team of primate animal care specialists provided round-the-clock care. In August 2015, Abby and Keeva were introduced, and are now living together full-time.
Humid forest, deciduous woodland, mixed savannas. May be found in more open areas if there is access to evergreen, fruit producing trees.
West and central Africa.
Weight: 88-132 pounds (males), 70-100 pounds (females).
Consists mainly of ripe fruit. Will also eat young leaves, seeds, flowers, resin, bark, termites, and animal prey.
Fun Facts: Chimpanzee
- Chimpanzees develop lifelong family bonds, particularly between mother and child. Mothers and dependent young (up to age 7 or so) are always together.
- Chimpanzees can currently be found in 21 African countries. The greatest concentration of chimpanzees is in the rain forests of what used to be the equatorial forest “belt.”
- Chimpanzees are knuckle walkers, which means they walk on all fours using their knuckles for support when they are on the ground or even when they are up in trees.
- Chimpanzees sometimes make up games to amuse themselves.
- Chimpanzees communicate physically in ways similar to humans—by kissing, embracing, patting on the back, touching hands, tickling, etc. They even laugh when they play!
Unfortunately, “Herman’s” orphan story is not uncommon even today. Many infant chimpanzees in Africa become orphans due to the hunting of chimpanzees. Consequently, chimpanzees face the real possibility of extinction within the next 10 to 20 years if their populations continue to decline at the current rate. However, by supporting chimpanzee conservation, we can help reverse this decline.
Organizations around the world are working towards great ape conservation. Activities that these organizations participate in include protecting habitat, preventing and reducing poaching for the bushmeat trade, assisting African communities in developing sustainability, and supporting sanctuaries with orphaned apes. Additionally many organizations in the United States have been working to remove chimpanzees from medical research and retire chimpanzees into sanctuaries.
The Zoo is a collaborating member of the AZA Ape TAG Conservation Initiative. This initiative brings AZA Zoos together to conserve wild apes and their habitat. All remaining ape species are endangered due to habitat loss, disease, political unrest, poaching, bushmeat, and the pet trade. By working together, this collaboration of zoos is able to provide greater funding and multi-year support to field projects working on the frontline of ape conservation. These projects are working on crucial activities such as anti-poaching patrols, enforcement of wildlife laws, management of protected areas, community outreach, and education. The Zoo has a long history of supporting ape conservation and will continue to do our part to ensure their long-term survival.
How You Can Help
Adopt an Animal!
You can help support expert animal care at the Zoo as well as local and global conservation efforts by purchasing a symbolic animal adoption package.
When you become a member of Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo you are supporting conservation year-round.
Be a Conservation Leader!
Each of us can help protect the environment, wildlife, and habitats through choices we make in our daily lives. Even small changes can make big positive impacts on the world around us.
- Recycle electronics – Electronics like cell phones and video game consoles contain a mineral called coltan. Coltan is mined in the rainforests of Africa, which is an important great ape habitat. When you recycle your electronics you reduce the need for mining and save great ape habitat.
- Avoid teak and mahogany – Teak and mahogany woods look great, but they come from great ape habitat. Look for wood products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), or that are recycled or reclaimed.
- Go for the (good) gold ring! – Gold and diamond mining contributes to the destruction of habitats and often exposes miners to dangerous working conditions. Make an effort to purchase jewelry from companies that use recycled precious metals.