Join our zoo community

Pure subspecies chimpanzees in zoos - perspectives

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Jurek7, 20 Jul 2021.

  1. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19 Dec 2007
    Posts:
    2,789
    Location:
    Everywhere at once
    Chimpanzees thrive in zoos and are not traditionally though of much. However, populations of wild primates are declining fast. In the lifetime of one chimpanzee, they could be in a dire situation. Most chimps in zoos are generic mixes or unknown subspecies. Europe has a rather developed plan to breed separately the Western subspecies verus. There also exist three other subspecies: Central African troglodytes, East African schweinfurthii and Nigeria-Cameroon ellioti / vellerosus which live between the Western and Central, and are the rarest form.

    What are the chances to preserve central and eastern chimps in Europe?
    Zootierliste lists scattered animals, but most are presumably elderly, and almost all are integrated in groups with subspecies hybrids. How many are capable of breeding, and is there any effort to bring them together?

    Are there chances to discover more pure Central and Eastern chimps in Europe, especially rescues? Are there plans to establish more groups?

    How is the situation of pure subspecies in America, Asia and Australia?

    Are there any Nigeria-Cameroon chimps ellioti / vellerosus in zoos?
     
  2. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    30 Sep 2019
    Posts:
    8,295
    Location:
    Brazil
    Have no helpful answers to your questions but I just want to say that from what I've seen in zoos in your part of the world chimpanzees are thought of and provided for a great deal and in many cases over other species.
     
    marmolady likes this.
  3. marmolady

    marmolady Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    20 Feb 2011
    Posts:
    398
    Location:
    Australia
    There are two presumed ellioti at Monkey World (UK), who were taken from the wild in Nigeria.

    In Australasia, chimpanzees are managed on species level; there is one confirmed verus (Galatea at Monarto) who was imported from Europe when she was thought to be a hybrid. North America, as well, manages chimps on species level.
     
  4. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    25 Jan 2006
    Posts:
    11,829
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Holland
    If they are presumed ellioti they need to be tested and sent back to assist with rehab and recovery for this highly endangered taxon. An animal sanctuary is and remains a total functional extinction death trap given their stance on AR at MW and no breeding policy.

    For the record, it seems none of their chimps have ever been genetically tested nor any attempts at relocation to a valid and functioning African rehab project.

    I think within the EEP there is an Italian collection also with an elliotti. Cannot check now as traveling.
     
  5. marmolady

    marmolady Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    20 Feb 2011
    Posts:
    398
    Location:
    Australia
    There are no in-situ projects releasing ellioti chimpanzees, and the in-situ projects that are in those regions (Pandrillus/Limbe Wildlife, Ape Action Africa, Sanaga-Yong) don't allow chimps to breed, so I can see no reason at all to take two former-pet chimps from a stable social group.

    Release programs with chimps account for a minute number of the animals in African sanctuaries/rehab centres. Only two centres to my knowledge (HELP-Congo with troglodytes and Projet Primates with verus) have released chimpanzees successfully. I can't see the western zoo population being of much value to these projects when they already have orphans coming out of their ears.
     
  6. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    25 Jan 2006
    Posts:
    11,829
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Holland
    Which is basically my reservations with ex situ animal sanctuaries. Resolving conservation issues revolves around sustainable in situation project work. The very fact only 2 release projects exist underlines where we are lacking.
     
  7. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19 Dec 2007
    Posts:
    2,789
    Location:
    Everywhere at once
    Thanks for the answers so far! I feel zoos should think about chimps now, because they can run into the same awkward situation as with hybrid leopards, tigers, orangutans, giraffes etc.

    I basically agree that 'primate sanctuaries' are behind the times in conservation. I think they should let their young and genetically valuable apes breed in other zoos, even if they want only to keep non-breeding animals and have no physical possibility to release them.
     
    JurassicMax and Kifaru Bwana like this.
  8. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    30 Sep 2019
    Posts:
    8,295
    Location:
    Brazil
    Again very much share your skepticism towards sanctuaries (as opposed to ex-situ captive breeding centers).

    It's not just the case with chimps unfortunately and without going into too much detail this unwillingness to cooperate with conservation programs or think of the bigger picture in species conservation terms by sanctuaries is something I've seen pretty frequently and has come up with sanctuaries holding Callithrix Aurita that are owned by animal rights activists.

    Animal rights activism is just often at total loggerheads with conservation and I really do think it is in 9 out of 10 cases incompatible.
     
    Last edited: 22 Jul 2021
    Kifaru Bwana likes this.
  9. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    25 Jan 2006
    Posts:
    11,829
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Holland
    How many captive C. Aurita in private AR sanctuaries in Brasil now compared to zoos?
     
  10. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19 Dec 2007
    Posts:
    2,789
    Location:
    Everywhere at once
    Back to chimps:

    Even if zoos in the USA, Canada and Australia maintain chimpanzees as generics, there is a fair chance to identify pure subspecies. This also applies to the former lab chimps. For historical reasons, chimps tended to be imported from some countries, and often one facility got chimps from one country.

    About sanctuaries, I understand they are run with limited funds, but not allowing primates to breed is the opposite of allowing them to express their full normal behavior. Female chimps spend all their adult life raising young, and groups with infants behave very differently as a whole, including not relatives of the infants. It is anthromorphising - because humans often stay single and childless, they impose it on other primates.

    There is a double standard that modern zoos are legally and morally obliged to protect whole species, cooperate with others and reintroduce animals, but 'sanctuaries' are not.
     
  11. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    30 Sep 2019
    Posts:
    8,295
    Location:
    Brazil
    Not a whole lot but in terms of genetics every individual is important.

    Animal rights sanctuaries get injured Aurita sometimes coming in a couple of times a year and at least one has kept several individuals that cannot be rehabilitated back to the wild for a number of years.

    Some sanctuaries do understand the importance of these individuals in terms of the captive breeding program and action plan and are willing to cooperate.

    However at least one sanctuary is run by a very staunch animal rights activist and she really has put up resistance and been very very silly indeed.

    With these sorts of activists it often comes down to emotions and you can be diplomatic and calmly give them a sound scientific argument for the need for collaboration to conserve a species but they are just not willing to hear it because for them it's about individual fluffy animals and not populations and even less species.

    They are very intellectually limited / challenged in that sense and hard to get on board.
     
    Last edited: 22 Jul 2021
    Kifaru Bwana likes this.
  12. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    30 Sep 2019
    Posts:
    8,295
    Location:
    Brazil
    Yes but they sometimes don't have space to accommodate breeding groups so they will sterilise animals or keep males and females separate in order to not to have to provide for more.

    I agree there is a double standard but it goes with the territory because these are people whose ethos and concern centers on individuals and not species.

    They are typically not conservation professionals but rather "animal rights" people and from what I've observed some truly resent conservationists trying to reach out to them or include them in scientifically informed programs.

    I don't know what the situation is with chimps but I would imagine that many end up in such sanctuaries and in these sorts of circumstances.
     
    Last edited: 22 Jul 2021
    Kifaru Bwana likes this.
  13. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19 Dec 2007
    Posts:
    2,789
    Location:
    Everywhere at once
    Coming from the narrow perspective of an individual animal, joining a breeding plan still benefits it.

    First, as written before, raising and interacting with young is an essential normal behavior and a large part of a time budget for any wild primate. Its natural behavior is incomplete without it.

    Second, animal transferred to a breeding group can get more appropriate social environment. A shelter usually receives a composition of animals not found in a healthy wild group - too few, too many, a mismatched age / sex structure (e.g. one adult male plus many infants). A breeding group is normally matched to resemble a natural social group of the species.

    Third, other animals in the sanctuary can get a better environment. A sanctuary may have trouble with young adult males, but could easily care for old, non-breeding and calm animals. The sanctuary could relieve overcrowding or substandard conditions, or free space to take more orphans in need, or get animals from zoos sent as a replacement.

    Also, primates do adapt to changing place and social groups. Zoos do it regularly, and sanctuaries to it too, out of necessity. It needs care, but usually succeeds without a long-term stress. Chimps are especially adaptable. There is no reason to dismiss a priory that a chimp from sanctuary would not adapt to a good zoo, nor vice versa.
     
    Kifaru Bwana likes this.
  14. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    25 Jan 2006
    Posts:
    11,829
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Holland
    I think it will take regional, Provincial or State bodies or conservation organizations to confiscate these and set them up for transfer to one of the specialized primate breeding stations around the country once individuals have sufficiently recovered. The rescue centers technically do not own the primates as national treasure and part of endangered fauna patrimony.
     
  15. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    25 Jan 2006
    Posts:
    11,829
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Holland
    Spot on, Jurek.
     
  16. MennoPebesma

    MennoPebesma Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Jun 2020
    Posts:
    563
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    In Europe the chimpanzee EEP is managed according to subspecies. It has two population management programmes, one for Western chimpanzees (P. t. verus) and one for Central chimpanzees (P. t. troglodytes). In the begining there was also interim breeding with hybrids to counter a predicted dip in the populations of Western and Central chimpanzees until breeding effort catch up for the two subspecies. But now the remaining population of hybrids and other subspecies of chimpanzees are being phased out through a managed decline.

    With such a small population of Eastern chimpanzees in Europe (about 12 animals I believe), I don't think there will be a breeding programme for that subspecies.
     
    marmolady likes this.
  17. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19 Dec 2007
    Posts:
    2,789
    Location:
    Everywhere at once
    I found an interesting publication from 2019. There is now a genetic test to check chimpanzee subspecies from hair or blood. If I understand well, the authors tested some unknown ancestry chimps in European zoos, and identified 90 western, 3 Nigerian-Cameroon, 25 central, 21 eastern chimpanzees and 46 (or 39?) hybrids. In paralel, they also assigned 31 confiscated chimps to their origin.

    They hope to follow up with ca 1000 remaining EAZA chimpanzees (any zoo insider knows whether it is happening?)

    For me this is a positive surprise that most zoo chimps in Europe are pure subspecies, despite several decades of unrestricted breeding.

    It would be interesting to use this test for chimps in AZA and SEAZA. Probably, a good proportion of chimps will turn to be pure subspecies, too, and subspecies breeding plans could be started.

    https://www.researchgate.net/public...rvation_genetics_of_the_endangered_chimpanzee
     
    Chatt Wolf and Kifaru Bwana like this.
  18. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    25 Jan 2006
    Posts:
    11,829
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Holland
    Excellent news and gives cause for optimism more chimp groups of more subspecies can be created using this new testing tool.

    Do you have access to the full PDF?
     
  19. Tiger

    Tiger Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    1 Jul 2021
    Posts:
    243
    Location:
    Belgium
    I don't think this is posted yet but Pakawi Park (former Olmense Zoo) has the only pure eastern chimpanzee group in zoos in europe to breed, last cub was born 6 years ago.