Chimpanzee Introductions: Where to Begin?

Chimpanzee Introductions:  Where to Begin?

As our newest group of six chimpanzees has become very comfortable in their new home, we have begun the slow process of combining them with our original group of ten into one large community.

Chimpanzees are very social and live in large fission-fusion communities, meaning that they come together at certain times, but may not see every individual of their community every day. The regular interactions that occur between members of the group are a very important part of their lives and provide both mental and physical stimulation. The bonds that are formed from these interactions are crucial in developing alliances and play a large part in the make-up of the group hierarchy.

In the wild, young females that are leaving their birth community would first encounter males from the new group. Due to this, our first step in integrating the two groups has been introducing the young females from the new group to the males in the original group. Since alliances play such a large part in group dynamics, most of the introductions are done with a chimpanzee from one group meeting a chimpanzee from another though often a shy chimpanzees will be introduced with a friendly buddy from their own group.

In addition to natural history, keepers have been observing the interactions between the two groups for the past few months as the chimpanzees have been able to see and hear each other though not touch. These observations, along with knowledge of each chimpanzee’s personality, have helped keepers plan introductions so that they are a positive experience and so that bonds can start to form between different members of the two groups.

Positive interactions have occurred between several members of both groups but two specific chimpanzees have been instrumental in making members of both their own group as well as new friends feel comfortable with introductions.

In the original group or Mac’s group:

Abe, a calm and friendly older male, was an instant hit with the females of Toby’s group. He and Kira kissed on first meeting. He won Tanzee’s heart by letting her steal broccoli right from his hands. His laid back personality and willingness to do whatever the females choose, whether it be sitting still for hours so they can groom him or playing a rowdy game of chase, has made him a favorite.

Abe grooming Sierra, the dominant female in the new group.
Abe grooming Sierra, the dominant female in the new group.

 

In the new group or Toby’s group:

Kira, the youngest and a very playful female, has instantly greeted every new friend with a hug. She is always willing to play a friendly game of chase or tug of war with a blanket. Since the males in Mac’s group have always loved to play, her enthusiastic greeting and friendliness has been very well received.

Kira and Willie: the ten year olds.
Kira and Willie: the ten year olds.

 

The next steps will depend on what the chimps are telling us.  There is no guarantee all individuals will get along with all other individuals, and that’s OK.  We are fortunate enough to have a large and very flexible housing area and can manage multiple groups as necessary.  Stay tuned, we will update you further as we progress!



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Status Update

Our corpse flower named "Reek" is showing signs of life! Our horticulture team is monitoring its progress daily for smells of death...

Learn about this interesting plant species and see more photos in our latest blog post.
www.houstonzoo.org/our-corpse-flower-is-alive/
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13 hours ago

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Cathy Elizondo, Paige Stilen and 23 others like this

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Tammy ErwinWhere in the Zoo is Reek located??? We don't want to miss getting a wiff of it.

13 hours ago   ·  1
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Trish McIntoshDoes Reek have her own page? Lois at HMNS was hugely popular a few years ago.

13 hours ago   ·  3
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Rebecca Ann ColeSally Nergaard remember when you and Kevy went and saw this flower in bloom?

13 hours ago
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Ashley MaldonadoAwesome!!! I got to see the corpse flower at hmns 5 years ago! Would love to see it again!

10 hours ago
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Tasha BhagwandinNot Theon… Reek!

12 hours ago   ·  7
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Casey Jones"You are not Reek, you are Theon Greyjoy!"

11 hours ago   ·  6
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Maura A CampuzanoToo cool

10 hours ago   ·  1
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Lee Anne BayYay, I'm so excited! Watching Lois bloom was a rollercoaster, can't wait to see this one!!

13 hours ago   ·  1
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Tyler NunleyI know I'm not the only one who thought of Game Of Thrones when reading this? Lol

9 hours ago   ·  1
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Angelique RodriguezI've always wanted to see one of these up close!!! ( and of course smell it he he)

13 hours ago
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Rachel PossoHa! Love the name.

13 hours ago
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Lauren CoxDanny Rubalcava Houston has one now too.. maybe we should get one for the back yard..

10 hours ago
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Shelby ColeWhen is it supposed to bloom?

10 hours ago
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Kim Kooser KeefeAWESOME name!!!!

12 hours ago
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Martha VillasenorWhere in the zoo is reek located ? Is it somewhere visible we could see it..

13 hours ago
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Nicki StacySaw this last week, looking forward to updates!

13 hours ago
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Maura A CampuzanoGaby Uribe, thought of you

10 hours ago   ·  1
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RickEy DentisPlease keep us updated on Facebook about it. I really want to go see this....thanks

13 hours ago
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Neva KloeselRoni Hopkins Glasgow LOOK, Another one!! Be sure to share with your sister!! ;)

13 hours ago
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Kayla RichardMelissa Shewbert take the daycare kids to smell this lol

7 hours ago
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Meghan Catherine BernalLaura N Rich lets go to the zoo hahah

11 hours ago
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Asiram Zellet YanezRose Chavez we should go see it!

12 hours ago   ·  1
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Betty TankYay!

12 hours ago
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Claire ShirleyYay! Britton Lang

6 hours ago   ·  1
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Nubia ReyesNancy Estrada Gomez remember seeing Lois?

12 hours ago
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Recently, two of our staff members spent time in California with The Marine Mammal Center (California) to help sea lions in need of veterinary care. Check out this video highlighting their important work! ... See MoreSee Less

18 hours ago

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The Marine Mammal Center (California)Great vid! Thank you for coming out to help. We appreciate it!

17 hours ago   ·  2
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Katharine KearnsYay! I need a Sea Lion bag too! I have the Sea Turtle bag.

15 hours ago
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Liz CleaveGood job. I love that these animals will eventually go back into the wild. Thank you for all your hard work.

3 hours ago
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Penny GwenWonderful!!!! I was there in the 80's and it looks great now and obviously grown so much....wish I'd volunteered when I had the chance!

17 hours ago
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Dawn DonaldsonYay

16 hours ago
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We will be closing at 5:30 p.m. today, July 25 (last admission 4:30 p.m.) for a private event. ... See MoreSee Less

3 days ago

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Carla Medellin JonesVery very nice Memorial Hermann! Thank you!

2 days ago
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Melissa YemmaWe had fun! Thank you memorial Herman!

2 days ago
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Erica BootsSo much fun! Thank you Memorial Hermann!

2 days ago
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