The chimpanzees together at last!

Great apes are fascinating and complex animals. Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), who share over 99% of their DNA with humans, are undoubtedly the most extroverted. The introduction of a new individual to an existing group is a risky process in this species that can be very aggressive.

In the wild, female chimpanzees leave their natal group when they are sexually mature and integrate another community where resident females don’t take kindly to these new arrivals because it induces an increase in food competition. On the other hand, males have new mating opportunities and thus regularly intervene to regulate conflicts between resident and immigrant females.

Emma, coming from Edinburgh Zoo in early December 2015, was the latest to be included in the group then composed of Homer (12 years old, male), Lily (28 years old, female), Sanaga (3 years old, male) and Bamia (12 years old, female).

Her dominant personality has made her integration a bit more difficult that for the other individuals. Bamia, who was getting along very well with Homer, has had some difficulty accepting a new female that could disrupt or limit her privileged relationship with the male.

The videos below show the various associations of individuals we made and the reactions of the chimpanzees facing this change. Some behaviors may seem violent but are part of the chimp social system. Our role during introductions is to assess the behavior of each individual and whether the contact should be extended or stopped. We also need to be reactive in case of aggression in order to quickly separate the animals.

The whole process took several days and Emma is now fully integrated to the group. She now has very good relationships with Bamia! We hope there will be matings between Homer and the females and that we will have births in the future as the group has been created for this purpose.

F. Perroux