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Did your zoo have a chimp show 1940 - 1975?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by dawnforsythe, 10 Mar 2011.

  1. dawnforsythe

    dawnforsythe Well-Known Member

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    I'm trying to get a sense of how many zoos had chimp shows from the 1940s to around 1975 or so. My dad trained chimps for the Detroit Zoo, and I'm wondering if that show was a rarity or if it was pretty common. I'd love to hear your memories, experiences, or see your pictures.

    I've just started writing a blog, but I promise I will not quote you if you do not want me to. My blog, fyi, is http:chimptrainersdaughter.blogspot.com

    Dawn
     
  2. Pootle

    Pootle Well-Known Member

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    Good question.

    I recall on a couple of occasions being very young and seeing the "Chimps Tea Parties" as youngster, now I was born in 1973, so I guess it must have been between 1976-1980 for me to have any memory of this. Unfortunately I can't say where it was or which zoo as I was lucky enough to be taken to zoos all over the country by my parents when I was a child.

    Possibly Jersey zoo springs to mind about this, but I could well be wrong.
     
  3. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    Did your zoo have a chimp show...

    London Zoo was always the major exponent of tea parties. Jersey might have had the odd hand-reared baby Gorilla running around, but only ever had a few Chimpanzees, which were only there for the first ten years or so.
     
  4. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Jersey definately never had tea party chimps, it would have been absolutely against their ethos! They did allow their handraised baby Gorillas to mingle with the public during exercise periods sometimes.

    As you said, in the UK, London was the main specialist in Tea Party Chimps. They even exported several 'trained' tea party-goers to Auckland Zoo, New Zealand, and possibly Australia too. One or two of the ex London chimps at Auckland may still be there or have only died quite recently.

    Twycross was of course famous for training the 'Brooke Bond' commercial T.V. Chimps but I don't think they ever held teaparties in the zoo itself?
     
  5. dawnforsythe

    dawnforsythe Well-Known Member

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    Chimp tea parties

    Thanks for the lead on London Zoo. I found a couple of books online about the zoo history. If anyone knows a trainer from those days, please drop me a note. I'd love to get a trainer's perspective on the shows.

    Chimp Trainer's Daughter
     
  6. GillP

    GillP Well-Known Member

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    I can just about remember seeing a chimps' tea party at London Zoo when I would have been about 6 or 7 but am afraid my memory of it isn't at all clear .... more that it was one of the 'attractions' my mum said we had to see. She'd be horrified by that now. Off topic but at the same time - late 60s, early 70s - London Zoo were still definitely doing camel rides for the public ..... and maybe elephant rides too (though not sure if that's a genuine memory or just general knowledge).

    There are quite a few pics on the net if you Google London Zoo and chimps' tea party.
     
  7. dawnforsythe

    dawnforsythe Well-Known Member

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    Off topic camel rides

    Thanks GillP. Re the camel rides, Maryland Zoo still has them! It must be a lot of fun for those camels, going round in tiny circles every day during the season.
     
  8. TARZAN

    TARZAN Well-Known Member

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    I also remember well the chimps tea party at London Zoo, also the camel rides and the llama cart, I cannot recall any elephant rides taking place as I understand they were terminated when one elephant took it upon herself to scarper back to the elephant house at the time situated where the Clore pavilion is now, fortunately there were no children on board at the time, so this must have been before the new Casson elephant and rhino house was opened in the mid sixties.
     
  9. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    The Chimps' Tea Parties at London Zoo stopped in 1972.

    I can recall seeing elephant rides there when I was a very small child; I believe that they stopped about 1959 / 1960.
     
  10. TARZAN

    TARZAN Well-Known Member

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    I recall the news of the end of the chimps tea party being announced on Blue Peter by Valerie Singleton, I also remember buying a Britains model of it in the old gift shop, One was recently for sale on E bay boxed at the price of £185. pity I didnt buy half a dozen at the time!
     
  11. GillP

    GillP Well-Known Member

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    In that case, me imagining elephant rides at London must be a false memory 'cos I'm not quite that old !!
     
  12. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Since my earlier comment, I’ve checked in some old London Zoo guides.

    I have one 1958 guide in which elephant rides are advertised. I also have another 1958 guide that includes an insert, dated 1960, saying that the elephant rides have now been suspended.
     
  13. Tarsius

    Tarsius Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately, all zoos in my area stopped the Chimp Shows int he 70ties. I've seen them in several zoos, I liked them, so I feel sorry they are gone, it was phantastic entertainment for vistors and the animals.

    Fortunately, some zoos still have elephant shows.:)
     
  14. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Janie at Auckland Zoo is still alive
     
  15. dawnforsythe

    dawnforsythe Well-Known Member

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    Well, I checked out the historical sources, and London sounds quite dignified with their tea party chimps. No chimps playing cowboys and indians, or dressing up like prisoners, or riding ponies? All I can find for stunts like that are zoos in Detroit, St. Louis, Bronx, and Philadelphia. Is it my imagination, or was this extreme entertainment basically an American thing?
     
  16. Simon McGlary

    Simon McGlary Well-Known Member

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    One of Edinburgh's chimpanzees still has a behaviour that is a throw back to the tea parties there. Any humans that she sees that she recognises she'll handclap to.

    It shows the transition in zoos that now natural behaviour is the most important thing as opposed to "see how like humans they are!"
     
  17. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    I think you are correct in that assumption. London Zoo chimps sat around a table but were not dressed up or asked to perform other stunts- most of the entertainment came from their natural mischief(probably encouraged) such as stealing each other's food, getting down from the table etc.

    Twycross chimps were dressed up but that was for the Brooke Bond T.V. commercials- I don't think they held tea parties as such.

    America do seem to lead the way with more extreme forms of entertainment animalwise. Those Parrot 'shows' (with circus style tricks-tightrope walking, bicycle riding etc) were also developed in the US, but Britain have copied this at many places in more recent years.
     
  18. John Dineley

    John Dineley Well-Known Member

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    I seem to remember watching the chimps in a glass fronted exhibit in the old London Zoo children's zoo, this was probably the early 1960's. They didn't do the tea parties but did various trained skills. Get grapes out of puzzle boxes and so on. I suspect this was an idea coming from Desmond Morris who was curator of mammals there until 1966. He also had the automated seal feeding machine for the grey seal who lived in a round pool with an island outside the old children's zoo.

    Found a video on Pathe News HERE.

    And some video of the tea party at London circa 1953!! HERE
     
  19. John Dineley

    John Dineley Well-Known Member

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    It's interesting that Twycross is mentioned in the context of PT Tips tea. However, what is often not mentioned is that the original chimps were not Twycross animals but were owned and trained by Billy Dash and his wife Marion who had where a well-known circus act at the begin of the TV campaign.

    Just found this obituary for Marion (Sylvia) Dash HERE.
     
  20. dawnforsythe

    dawnforsythe Well-Known Member

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    John, this source of videos is a marvelous find!!! They even had video of Detroit Zoo, where my dad was a chimp trainer, albeit a couple years before his time.

    Did you see that clip where a chimp shoots another chimp? Wow.