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!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Animal Adventure Series

A team of scientists from Anglia Ruskin University’s Department of Life Sciences - led by Animal Behaviour and Ecology expert Guy Norton - has helped with the filming of a four part series in Africa for Five, due for transmission beginning 21 June (8.00pm).

Among The Apes gets up close and personal to four of the best known primate species. It features three apes -mountain gorillas, orang-utans and chimpanzees - and baboons, a monkey species living in the woody and grassy African habitats similar to the home of early man.

As Director of the Animal Behaviour Research Unit (ABRU) in Mikumi National Park, Tanzania, Guy Norton assisted the series presenter, the well known primatologist Charlotte Uhlenbroek, with her observations of baboons. These unique animals will be seen in the second programme in the series on 28 June (8.00pm) in their natural habitat within the Mikumi National Park.

In the series Charlotte reveals the complex social and sexual dynamics of man’s closest evolutionary and ecological relatives. Her adventure was made possible through her working with those who live closest to the animals – the peoples, rangers and scientists on the ground. In the programmes, she is fully briefed by them, before making her own first, crucial approaches to the animals. Charlotte approached them closely to get an insight into their daily and personal lives. The series draw on Charlotte’s knowledge of living and working with these amazing animals. Such familiarity with primates has been Charlotte’s life-long dream since her earliest chimpanzee studies in the forests of Gombe, Tanzania.

Charlotte wore hidden body cameras and used a tiny hand held camera to record her experiences as they happened. Each programme unfolds Charlotte’s developing relationships with the animals in real time, with immediacy and closeness. Charlotte camped out in the African bush with the troop of baboons studied at ABRU and in other programmes she built a nest in an attempt to sleep high in the jungle canopy like a chimpanzee, learned the ropes – quite literally – at a school for orphaned orang-utans, and foraged for food with mountain gorillas.

Guy Norton first met Charlotte in the 1980s when she was a school girl living with her UN employed parents in Tanzania. He said, ‘We showed wild baboons up close to Charlotte even before she began her studies of chimpanzees at Gombe. Charlotte has an excellent knowledge of primates and a very real appreciation of the importance of long-term studies such as our work on baboons. Like Sir David Attenborough she understands the problems of conserving the habitats and populations of such species and how necessary behavioural and ecological work like ours is to further such conservation. I like to think that Charlotte’s early experience with our research might have helped inform her career. She is an excellent presenter and it was a pleasure to work alongside her on this filming project. I expect that this series will confirm her position as the potential successor to Sir David Attenborough.’

Anglia Ruskin University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Michael Thorne said: ‘We are proud of the three decades of work that the team at ABRU have put into the study of baboons in Tanzania; and delighted that Guy Norton has helped to facilitate this very close contact between Charlotte and the baboons in their open countryside setting. It is expected that the series will yet again change the way we view primates in their natural world – and that we will all learn something from their behaviour along the way.’

The research and conservation activities of ABRU and the research activities of all staff contributes to the Animal and Environmental courses offered by the Department of Life Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University. Subjects range from Animal Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation to Marine Biology and Natural History; and from Animal Welfare to Zoology. For further information about these courses contact 0845 271 3333
or visit

Among The Apes is a Firefly production for Five.
Series Producer is Kathryn Taylor
Executive Producer is Alex Sutherland

Photo: Guy Norton working beside a sub-adult male baboon called Ubawa

Anglia Ruskin University

Anglia Ruskin University is passionate about the advancement of knowledge and the education of students, and we pride ourselves on taking university education in imaginative new directions. Our key contribution is to the enhancement of social, cultural and economic well being. We have two main campuses, in Cambridge and Chelmsford, with over 24,000 students and 1,000 academic staff.


The Animal Behaviour Research Unit (ABRU) was established in Mikumi National Park, Tanzania in 1974. ABRU’s research into the behaviour and ecology of yellow baboons is now into its fourth decade. It is only one of a handful of long-term primate field studies, like those of Jane Goodall on chimpanzees or Daine Fossey on gorillas, in the world. The team is now observing the great-granddaughters of the original baboon matriarchs that were the focus of the initial study. Central to the study are issues concerning dominance, reproductive success, and foraging feeding and processing habits.

Although ABRU is best known for its primate studies, it is increasingly involved in ecological monitoring and other conservation and management related work. For example, ABRU is now involved in studies on the African Elephant and one of the most valuable woods in the world, African Ebony (used for making woodwind instruments).

Guy Norton has been working with ABRU for 31 years. He is currently its director in addition to his role as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University. Up to three research assistants and two research rangers are based permanently at the ABRU field station. The station’s facilities include accommodation for staff, visiting scholars and research students plus a library and a small laboratory.

ABRU collaborates with many scientists and institutions within Tanzania and works particularly closely with Tanzania National Parks. All of ABRU work is focused on Mikumi National Park, one of the largest parks in East Africa and the most protected diverse part of the Selous system. The Selous Game Reserve continuous with Mikumi is Africa's largest protected wildlife reserve and a World Heritage Site

Ultimately, it is hoped that ABRU will pass into the hands of life scientists and conservationists from Tanzania for the continuity and stability of its ongoing work in relation to baboons, habitat studies, and the long-term study of elephants. "


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