Hamilton Zoo’s popular chimpanzee troop will be back on public display from Saturday 6 February after completion of a major upgrade to their enclosure.
The chimpanzee area has been closed to the public since work began in February 2020. Construction was delayed during COVID-19 lockdown, but the chimps were introduced to their new upgraded outdoor enclosure in mid-December.
Zoo Director Dr Baird Fleming says the chimps coped well with the change, so well that Sanda – already mother to four-year-old Chiku – gave birth to her second daughter just 24 hours after the chimps were given access to their new space.
“Sanda’s successful conception and pregnancy while the troop was off display, and the birth after she was introduced to the new space, are testament to the robust enrichment programme our primate team runs with the chimpanzees to ensure they’re happy, healthy and safe,” said Dr Fleming.
“With the arrival of a precious new addition to the troop, we made the decision to give the chimps time to adjust to their new space before reopening the path and new visitor viewer to the public.”
Dr Fleming said the troop had settled in well. “The new outdoor area is spacious and has more shelter so the chimps can enjoy spending time outside comfortably, whatever the weather.”
The enclosure project has also delivered a new state-of-the-art fence and improved public viewing areas. It is part of the Zoo’s ongoing renewals programme.
During the upgrade, the troop lived between their chimp house and a purpose-built outside area. More play equipment and hammocks were added to the house to increase opportunities for climbing, exploring and resting and the outside area meant they had plenty of exercise and fresh air.
Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said the chimps were always a “firm favourite” when she had visited the zoo with family and friends.
“People will be thrilled to see the chimps back in a much better space than before and so obviously thriving. The zoo really is a wonderful asset for Hamilton and a visit makes for an unforgettable day out.”
The seven-member chimp troop at Hamilton Zoo is part of the international breeding programme. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists chimpanzees as endangered on their red list of threatened species. Breeding programmes like the ones the Zoo operates are helping to save important species.
Hamilton Zoo supports the Jane Goodall Foundation and its work with chimpanzees. The Foundation is dedicated to protecting chimpanzees and conserving critical habitat while strengthening surrounding communities and empowering the next generation of conservation leaders.