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Friday, May 18, 2012
Back in Gombe
I have arrived back in Gombe after three days of nonstop traveling from Chicago. I’m here on my annual visit to check up on the zoo’s Gombe research projects, including our investigations into chimpanzee health and mother-infant behavior.
This will be my last trip as director of the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes. Shortly after I return, I will shift to adjunct scientist status at the zoo as I transition to my new job as a faculty member at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
With me on this trip are Dominic Travis, D.V.M., and Thomas Gillespie, Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota and Emory University respectively. Both are longtime collaborators on our Gombe Ecohealth Project. Also joining us is Tiffany Wolf, a veterinarian and Ph.D. student from University of Minnesota. We’re here to work with our staff to implement new data collection strategies, report back on findings and perform our annual assessment of how the various projects are going.
We have a lot to do over the next six days we’re in the park, but we’re very excited to be back. As a special welcome, my very favorite chimpanzee, Gremlin, walked close to camp just a few short hours after I arrived. With her was her daughter Gaia, son Gimli, young baby Gizmo and grandson Google.
Gaia was one of the chimpanzees I studied for my Ph.D. project focusing on infant learning, so it’s wonderful to be able to observe her as a mother herself as part of the long-term mother-infant project. They moved on past camp after about an hour, and we moved on to getting unpacked and ready for a busy week at Gombe.
Elizabeth Lonsdorf, Ph.D., is director of Lincoln Park Zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes.
Gombe Field Diaries
Lincoln Park Zoo is partnering with the Jane Goodall Institute to study and conserve chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park, the site of Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking research. Our Gombe field diaries feature updates as scientists monitor chimpanzee health, study ape behavior and experience life in Gombe.
As director of the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lonsdorf leads Lincoln Park Zoo efforts in Gombe National Park.
Rachel Santymire, Ph.D.
An endocrinologist in the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, Santymire studies stress and reproduction in Gombe's chipmanzees.
A graduate student in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago, Matt is studying how levels of play in Gombe¹s chimpanzees influence stress, development and reproductive success.
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