‘Spotlight on Species’ Chimpanzee

Chimpanzees are very intelligent and incredibly resourceful when in comes to creating ways to obtain their food.  Visitors to the Houston Zoo can see an example of this creativity on a daily basis during the 12:30 keeper chat. The chimpanzee exhibit has its very own termite mound replica and guests can watch the chimpanzees modify and use branches to retrieve delicious treats such as yogurt, bananas, or juice .

Lucy fishing at replica termite mound.

Chimpanzees in the wild exhibit a similar behavior by modifying branches to fish for termites. Other examples of tool use by chimpanzees in the wild include modifying branches into spears for hunting small mammals, using rocks to crack nuts, wadding leaves as sponges to soak up water, and bunching leaves and branches to make comfortable nests to sleep in at night.

When visiting the Houston Zoo chimpanzee exhibit, take a second to watch the different techniques the chimpanzees use to ‘fish’ for their treats in the termite mound.  Lucy’s favorite spot is the top of the termite mound. This is prime real estate when it is time to ‘fish.’ It is also a great spot for her to observe guests of the zoo and all their entertaining antics. She usually chews on the end of her branch in order to make it better able to soak up liquids or makes it flatter so that it can scoop more treats out of the tubes.



Willie, the juvenile, has his own unique technique. Instead of modifying his own branch, he usually tries to steal someone else’s already modified tool. If he doesn’t steal the tool, he may sit just next to another chimpanzee and take their delicious treat off the end of their branch before they get a chance to enjoy it.




Let us know your suggestions for what tasty treat to put in the chimpanzees’ termite mound, then stop by on May 25-27 for a ‘Spotlight on Species’ focusing on Chimpanzees to see what they are fishing for that day. The ‘Spotlight on Species’ will be from 10am-3pm and there will be many fun and educational activities to help visitors learn about chimpanzees. You can bring in old cell phones for recycling in exchange for a chimpanzee conservation bracelet. Meet the primate keepers who care for the Houston Zoo’s chimpanzees at 12:30 and 2:30 during a keeper chat.

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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: I'm still using this.
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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: Im still using this.


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Are there some zoo animals that enjoy this weather?

SMG is another reason why Houston Zoo is the best Zoo!

Are we positive that’s the statue rather than it really just being that cold? 😛

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

That’s my best friend Sophie for ya! 😂


Omg the Zoo is so awesome 😂😂😂 Alana Berry

Omg be warm sweetoe

Haha!! Good one!

Sweetie 💞

Ashley Jucker 😂

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Weve heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing?


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Ok, it took me a minute to get this. I was literally zooming in to try to find the mouse. 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄😂

Cindy Christina Angela Ramirez see I told y’all! Lol

“Baby it’s cold outside!”

That's nothing! Talk to keepers from the northern states or Canada!

i was honestly looking for a mouse lol

Annecia Wesley but where is the ice bacon? Lol

Wow,that is so neat!

Two words. Pipe insulation.

That’s awesome!

Ana Rivers Smith cool!


Pauline Ervin

Denise Daigre

Ashley Nguyen

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Brrrr. It’s cold out there! We have made the decision to close the Houston Zoo tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 17. Don’t worry, the animals are safe and warm in their night houses!

A limited number of staff from departments like Animal Programs, Safety and Security and Operations/Facilities will be onsite to perform essential services and have the Zoo ready for us to reopen Thursday morning.

A big ol' high-five to our awesome team members who braved this icy cold to come in and care for our animals and zoo facilities.
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Safety and welfare of the animals first! Thanks guys for all you do.

Yes thank you for everything yall do to keep the animals safe .. y'all keep safe and warm

Thank you for taking good care of our animals!

Thank u for keeping those Babies safe and warm!❤️

Thank you for all you do!

Thank you for ZOO LIGHTS. it was amazing this year!

Thank you, zoo team. Stay safe!

Mandy Rinker— really? Too cold? You’re from the Midwest girl


thank you for all you do and keep the furry babies warm


Thank you for taking care of our precious animals that we love to come see!

Thank you for keeping those beautiful animals safe. 💕

Thank you for making sure the animals are safe and warm.

Thank you for all you do for these amazing animals!!

Go, Erika!!!

Thank you 💕


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