Lester E. Fisher Center

The Hub of Ape Science

Located in Lincoln Park Zoo's Regenstein Center for African Apes, the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes brings together ape experts and organizations from around the world to collaborate on groundbreaking  research and education.

The center’s mission is to conduct multidisciplinary research that will

  • advance the knowledge of ape biology
  • improve the care and management of apes in zoos and sanctuaries
  • conserve and protect wild populations

Toward that end, the Fisher Center offers unique training and educational opportunities for undergraduate students, student interns, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows through collaborative projects with center staff.

Related Projects

Zoo scientists study chimpanzee health and play in Gombe National Park, the site of Jane Goodall's groundbreaking research.  

Gombe Field Research
Lincoln Park Zoo is proud to partner with the Jane Goodall Institute on research in Gombe Stream National Park. Zoo scientists take advantage of resources established over nearly half a century to study chimpanzee health and play.
 
Goualougo Triangle Ape Project

In a remote region of the Republic of Congo, researchers are conducting groundbreaking research into how gorillas and chimpanzees live alongside one another in one of the most pristine landscapes on earth.

Lincoln Park Zoo's Project ChimpCARE
There are an estimated 2,200 chimpanzees living in the United States today, more than double the number estimated in their home range country of Tanzania in East Africa. Project ChimpCARE is committed to providing sustainable care for all chimpanzees.


Produced by Lincoln Park Zoo's Project ChimpCARE, this free, interactive iPad children's book shares how chimps should be free to be themselves, from chimp head to chimp toe!

Chimps Should Be Chimps
Produced by Lincoln Park Zoo's Project ChimpCARE, this free, interactive iPad children's book shares how chimps should be free to be themselves, from chimp head to chimp toe!


Zoo caregivers partnered with peers around the world to build a vital database of great ape blood types.

Great Ape Blood Typing
Zoo caregivers have partnered with peers around the world to build a vital database of great ape blood types, information that’s improved veterinary care at zoos and in the wild.


The Mind of the Chimpanzee: Ecological and Experimental Perspectives
Featuring a foreword by Jane Goodall

Edited by Lincoln Park Zoo scientist Steve Ross, Ph.D., the Mind of the Chimpanzee features contributions from 30 of the world’s leading chimpanzee researchers. Exploring topics ranging from tool use to chimpanzee culture, this exciting scholarly volume collects the latest knowledge on our closest living relative.


By having apes exchange tokens for treats, scientists can study responses to unequal treatment.

Token-Exchange Studies
By having gorillas and chimpanzees exchange tokens for treats, scientists can study responses to unequal treatment. The resulting behavioral economics insights can reveal ape perceptions of inequity.


Every day, zoo researchers use tablet computers to observe and record the activities of chimpanzees and gorillas living at Regenstein Center for African Apes.

Monitoring Ape Behavior
Every day, zoo researchers use tablet computers to observe and record the activities of chimpanzees and gorillas living at Regenstein Center for African Apes.


By observing apes as they use tools, scientists can also understand how they learn and interact.

Ape Tool-Use Studies
By observing chimpanzees and gorillas as they use tools at Regenstein Center for African Apes, zoo scientists can better understand how apes learn and interact with one another.


By observing apes such as gorilla Kwan as they interact with touch-screen computers, Fisher Center scientists can learn more about how these animals think.

Ape Touch-Screen Studies
By using touch-screen computers to monitor chimpanzees and gorillas as they sequence objects and react to the social cues embedded in a glance, zoo scientists can see how apes perceive the world around them.


A network of 65 “camera traps” lets zoo scientists record gorilla and chimpanzee behavior and tool use throughout the 95,000-acre Goualougo Triangle.

Goualougo Video Lab
A network of 65 “camera traps” records ape behavior in the Republic of Congo’s Goualougo Triangle. By analyzing this footage at the zoo, our scientists are revealing new findings about how chimpanzees and gorillas live in the wild.


Staff

Steve Ross, Ph.D., is director of Lincoln Park Zoo's Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes

Steve Ross, Ph.D.
Director

Lydia Hopper, Ph.D., is a research scientist in Lincoln Park Zoo's Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes

Lydia Hopper, Ph.D.
Research Scientist

Dave Morgan, Ph.D.
Research Fellow, Co-Director of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project

Kathy Wagner is the David Bohnett Foundation Ape Cognition Research Assistant in Lincoln Park Zoo's Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes.

Kathy Wagner
David Bohnett Foundation Ape Cognition Research Assistant

Laura Kurtcyz is a research intern in Lincoln Park Zoo's Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes.

Laura Kurtycz, M.A.
Research Assistant

Marisa Shender is a research assistant in Lincoln Park Zoo's Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes

Marisa Shender
Research Assistant

Other zoo staff who collaborate with the Fisher Center are Lisa Faust, Ph.D., Kathryn Gamble, D.V.M., Rachel Santymire, Ph.D., and the RCAA keepers.

Adjunct Scientists

Elizabeth Lonsdorf, Ph.D., is an adjunct scientist in the zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes.

Elizabeth Lonsdorf, Ph.D.
Adjunct Scientist
Professor of Psychology, Franklin and Marshall College

Crickette Sanz is a Fisher Center adjunct scientist and co-director of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project. Crickette Sanz, Ph.D.
Adjunct Scientist
Professor of Anthropology, Washington University
Kristin Bonnie, Ph.D., is an adjunct scientist in Lincoln Park Zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes

Kristin Bonnie, Ph.D.
Adjunct Scientist
Assistant Professor of Psychology, Beloit College

Claudio Tennie is an adjunct scientist in the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes Claudio Tennie, Ph.D.
Adjunct Scientist
Birmingham Fellow, University of Birmingham (UK)

Multimedia

The zoo's chimpanzees spent a year trading tokens for treats in a voluntary research project.

Post from the President—Trading Tokens
The zoo's chimpanzees spent a year trading tokens for treats in a voluntary research project. Whether they're taking the easy deal or hoarding for a big haul, these complex apes are showing us how they balance "work" and rewards.

By having chimpanzees trade tokens for treats, zoo scientists can study how the apes learn and respond to different rewards.

Great Ape Economics
By having chimpanzees trade tokens for treats, zoo scientists can study how the apes learn and respond to different rewards.

Gorilla Azizi sequences items on a touch-screen.

Can You Sequence Better Than a Gorilla?
Watch how bachelor gorilla Azizi reached the next level in the zoo's touch-screen research--and then try his task yourself!

The arrival of baby gorilla Patty spurs Fisher Center Director Steve Ross to share how primate families teach little ones how to live like adults.

Learning How to Be a Gorilla from Mom
The arrival of baby gorilla Patty spurs Fisher Center Director Steve Ross to share how primate families teach little ones how to live like adults.

Fisher Center Research Assistant Marisa Shender records chimpanzee behavior at Regenstein Center for African Apes.

Guest Post from the President--Great Ape Economics?
From token-exchange studies to the latest news from the Goualougo Triangle, Fisher Center Director Steve Ross offers an update on zoo work to understand--and protect--great apes.