The past weeks have involved some juggling at Regenstein Center for African Apes. In addition to reintegrating gorillas Susie and Bahati into Kwan’s family group, our caregivers have welcomed two new chimpanzees behind the scenes as well!
Females Magadi, 22, and Cookie, 30, came to Chicago from Madison’s Henry Vilas Zoo in October. With their standard quarantine period wrapping up, they should be joining resident females Vicky and Kibali in the off-exhibit auxiliary area in the next couple weeks.
New chimpanzees Magadi and Cookie, who will be joining Vicky and Kibali's social group behind the scenes at Regenstein Center for African Apes. Photos courtesy of Henry Vilas Zoo.
The move, recommended by the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan®, is designed to offer all four chimpanzees a larger, more complex social group. It’s a little bittersweet, given that iconic chimpanzee Keo, who passed away in September, was slated to be part of this new group.
But on the whole the change is very exciting. The two new chimpanzees have personal histories that align with Lincoln Park Zoo’s world-class work with the species. Magadi is actually Vicky’s daughter! Since it was necessary for animal care staff to intervene and hand rear her, the two had almost no contact. Still, Magadi will be sharing a home with her mother and her half-sister (Kibali is also Vicky’s daughter). It’s a reunion of sorts, even if we can’t be sure the chimpanzees recognize it.
Cookie, on the other hand, is a former pet chimpanzee who also spent time as a performer before coming to Henry Vilas Zoo nearly 10 years ago. Much of her life was spent in unnatural social settings—ones that can negatively impact peoples’ attitudes toward chimpanzee conservation, as research from Lincoln Park Zoo’s Project ChimpCARE has demonstrated. Here, Cookie will continue to live in a natural setting, a process enhanced by the larger social group she will be entering.
Magadi and Cookie have been doing well in their new home. Just yesterday they had their full physicals, which included the implantation of EKG devices to help monitor heart health. (Much like people, chimpanzees are vulnerable to heart disease.) We’re excited to welcome them, and we look forward to offering more updates as they meet their groupmates.