The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

George, Baby Chimpanzee, 10mo

Chimpanzees Debbie, right, Daisy, left, and Daisy’s son George enjoy lunch on April 30 at the Knoxville Zoo. George, 10 months old, has shown plenty of bravado at the Chimp Ridge exhibit.

Ten-month-old George is a spindly-legged, skinny-armed chimpanzee brimming with curiosity and bravado.

The first chimp born at the Knoxville Zoo in 20 years likes eating fruit and Cheerios. His teeth are in and pearly white, but his mother Daisy will nurse him for several more years.

Perhaps slightly small for his age, George now enjoys swinging from ropes in the Chimp Ridge exhibit. His arms are just long and slender enough to reach through off-exhibit bars at passing zookeepers. When he walks he often pushes a small pile of hay - a sort of chimpanzee baby security blanket.

He may like the comfort of a hay bundle-blanket, but this primate is growing up without fear.

The zoo's adult apes, including George's father Jimbo, better not think about bothering Daisy. George, who likely weighs less than 10 pounds, isn't afraid to slap and bark a warning to a larger, older chimp.

Nine chimps, including George and his parents, live at the zoo. The park has long been home to the male Lu and females Debbie and Julie. Last year, just before George's birth, the zoo got three more female chimps. Jackie, Bo and Binti came from the Cleveland Zoo, where they once lived with Jimbo.

George's birth and staff shortages this year delayed introducing the new chimps to all of the others.

Keepers began that work in early May in hopes that all the animals will soon live together. Introducing strong, intelligent primates with different personalities and varying alliances can be tense. Ensuring a baby chimp doesn't get hurt adds to the tension; so does the fact that Bo and Binti had never encountered a baby chimp.

Keepers began by placing Debbie and Jackie together. Debbie is the dominant female of the Knoxville group; affable Jackie heads the trio that keepers often call "the Cleveland girls."

Over a few days, Julie and then Bo and Binti joined them. Daisy and George were added last.

Greeted happily by Debbie and hugged by Julie, Daisy let George crawl a few feet from her on their first day with their new companions. She spread flat on her stomach, head up and eyes moving. Debbie, who adores George, was his overt bodyguard. As he toddled, she lumbered a few feet ahead and waved her arms to brush aside any ape in his path.

For the six female chimps, life wasn't so steady. Spells of quiet were broken by screaming fights that ended as quickly as they began. Spats with a few minor injuries have continued.

Jackie and Debbie have become the group mediators.

"Chimps fight; that's what they do," said Lisa New, the zoo director of animal collections for mammals and birds.

George stays safe. It is as if the new chimps know they'd face dire consequences if he were picked on.

Daisy, Debbie and Julie have bonded over the baby.

"They are fierce," said New. "Nobody would dare touch him."

Keepers want the Chimp Ridge group to settle in more before placing Jimbo and Lu with them. They particularly want small, naturally nervous Binti to get more comfortable.

The other chimps have made friendly overtures toward Binti; George has tried to get her to play.

"He scared her and she threw hay at him," New said. "He approached her and she ran off."

George and Bo have interacted - briefly.

"It's not for George's lack of trying," said New. "He is not afraid of anything."

Source and Video

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