Movement in our chimp group!
Four subspecies of chimpanzee distributed in around 20 African countries are commonly recognized:
- the west african chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) is found from Senegal to western Nigeria;
- the Nigeria-Cameroun chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti) is found only in Nigeria and north of the Sanaga river in Cameroon;
- the central chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) who lives in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and DRC;
- the eastern chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) ranges from southeastern Central African Republic to western Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and southeastern Sudan.
The breeding program for chimpanzees has been seeking to get a clear picture of the large population (more than 700 individuals!) kept by European zoos for many years. That's why it has decided to undertake a DNA analysis in order to distinguish individuals of pure subspecies from hybrids (the first wild chimps imported from Africa were mixed together regardless of their country of origin) and thus improve the overall management of the captive population.
Blood samples from our chimps were collected during their transfer to the new ape exhibit in 2009 and sent to the breeding program. The results showed that all of our individuals were hybrids except one female called Lily, identified as pure Pan troglodytes troglodytes.
At the end of 2013, the DNA tests reported a captive chimp population made up of 44% of western african chimps (P. t. verus) and 18% of central african chimps (P. t. troglodytes). As the number of chimps from central Africa eventually revealing itself quite important (39 identified individuals so far), it has been decided to implement a distinct breeding program (EEP) for this subspecies as it has been done for the verus ssp since 2002 which is currently the most represented subspecies of chimpanzee within european zoos. Besides these two subspecies are listed as "endangered" on the IUCN Red List.
At the end of last year, the EEP asked us if we would agree to receive a male P. t. troglodytes in order to start a new breeding group with our female Lily, a proposal we finally accepted.
A few weeks ago, Homer, a gorgeous 11 years old young male arrived in La Palmyre from Jerez zoo where he was living with two hybrid females.
Below you can watch the video of Homer's unloading. Soon we will release the video of his successful introduction with Lily and her 2 years old son Sanaga!