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Chester's Chimp House, 1957

Chester's Chimp House, 1957
^Chris^, 25 Nov 2007
    • bongorob
      I remember it
    • gentle lemur
      I remember it too, I probably visited Chester for the first time in 1958. I remember the islands; the far one in this photo had orangs originally, then the mountain gorillas when they were young, while the Tropical House was being built on the adjoining land.
      You could also view the chimps from the windows in the public walkway between their indoor enclosures and the islands. Those windows were very low down and I am still amazed that the chimps didn't break the glass (although I suppose it was reinforced even then) or get over the roof. Part of the explanation is that there was nothing to climb on the islands, so they must have been just high enough. The indoor enclosures were fairly large, but just bare concrete floor and walls, with a low iron T shape as the only furniture - I'm sure the chimps preferred the islands. The night dens were behind these enclosures.
      I think this photo must have been taken from a cherry picker or temporary structure, as there was no building where the old orang house is now - just a rather scruffy field for wallabies.

    • ^Chris^
      Guys, If I've interpretted this right, is it the giraffe house in the background on the left? Was that there then?
    • gentle lemur
      Yes, it's the same building. The giraffes had the paddock in front of the main house. The camels had the other front paddock until the okapi arrived. At the far side, by the canal I vaguely remember American bison - that area is now part of the giraffe paddock too. Behind the camel's end of the giraffe house was small house and paddock for the young african elephants (before they moved into the new elephant house over the footpath): that area is now a kiosk and some picnic tables.

    • ^Chris^
      I remember the camels and arabian gazelle in the back bit.
    • CZJimmy
    • Cat-Man
      were did the chimps acsess the indoor house from the island in the foreground
    • bongorob
      Ther is a bridge between that island and the one with access to the indoor accommodation.
    • Pertinax
      The group on the 'middle' island (furthest away in this photo) contained one male called 'Algy' who would regularly display by tearing up a huge sod of grass and earth and hurling it up at the windows of the walkway. The public loved it of course.

      The larger indoor areas reminded me rather of dance halls or concrete squash courts:) I seem to remember there were lurid paintings of foliage on the walls but nothing else except the simple 'T bar' Alan mentioned and I'm not sure each enclosure had one anyway.

      I still haven't worked out what that rock-like structure in the moat- bottom left corner of the picture- is though we have discussed it before.:confused:
    • GreatApe
      The first time I went to Chester - in the early 70's - I remember looking out over the islands from the viewing corridor windows. The islands were considered revolutionary compared with barred enclosures but of course they were pretty bleak with regard to climbing apparatus. Perhaps boredom was the reason the chimps "interacted" so much with the public - observing, throwing "things" and so on?

      Am I imagining things or were there some other ape islands, (gorillas or orangs), behind the ramp on the left leading up to the public viewing area? I seem to remember looking down into some sort of moated pit type enclosure.

      On a modern note, during my last visit to Chester, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that a couple of the chimps were sitting on one of the concrete supports of the back of the Tropical Realm, (the base of the extreme left hand pillar that you can see in the photo). I don't know if the moat is shallower there because of the "infill" or simply narrower, but they were quite happily stepping off the island, over the moat and onto the concrete supports! I am assuming that there is something preventing them from moving along from support to support to the wall on the right and then escape?!
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    Chester Zoo
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