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!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Taronga Zoo, Multi-Million Dollar Enclosure and 2 new Chimps

Law of the jungle...Taronga's top chimp must watch his back. Photo: Edwina Pickles
Richard Macey
August 15, 2009

WHETHER it is in State Parliament's legendary ''bearpit'', or Taronga Zoo's chimpanzee enclosure, the game is the same - grabbing power, and clinging fast to it.

On Macquarie Street, two ''beta males'', John Della Bosca and Frank Sartor, are reportedly waiting for their chance to overthrow Nathan Rees, the alpha male of NSW politics.

Across the harbour, 16-year-old Lubutu rules a colony of

19 chimps. There, too, rivals are watching and waiting. Lubutu must keep a constant eye on his two leadership contenders, Shabani and Chimbuka.

''The males have reached the age where they are vying for an alpha male position,'' said Louise Grossfeldt, the zoo's primate supervisor.

''Things are reasonably stable at the moment,'' she said. However maintaining that peace was ''all about political alliances''.

But the chimps' world is facing upheaval. Next month they will be moved to another enclosure where they will stay for 18 months while their 28-year-old home undergoes a $6 million overhaul.

They will get a wet weather shelter, new climbing structures, more trees, a meshed paddock and facilities to allow the animals to be separated for special occasions, such as the introduction of new blood.

In Macquarie Street it may be bad poll numbers, or a gaffe, that shatters the vital alliances that keep the leader in office. In the chimp park, it may be something as simple as moving house.

''These are things we will need to consider in the move,'' said Ms Grossfeldt, explaining that the chimpanzee colony was ''a perceived democracy'' in which human interference was, where possible, avoided.

''We allow them self-government. We simply supply them with the resources they need. We want to ensure that Lubutu stays in the alpha male position. Lubutu has earned that position and the group has decided that he is currently the alpha male.''

Chimp power struggles are no minor feuds. ''They can kill each other. It does happen in the wild.''

Every chimp seeking power employs his own strategy. While some become aggressive, ''others will do it very logically. They think, 'If I want to maintain my alpha male position I need everyone to be my friend.'''

Lubutu, for example, is often seen with the infants, much as human politicians like to be photographed kissing babies.

''Lubutu plays with the infants, so the females support him,'' said Ms Grossfeldt. If Shabani and Chimbuka want his job they will also have to take on the mums.

Despite the political minefields ahead, Ms Grossfeldt is confident a chimp leadership spill is ''highly unlikely''.

In Macquarie Street, the odds are somewhat shorter.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

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