Zoo officials realised that the chimpanzee’s fondness and inclination towards the woman were detaching him from the other chimps in the facility.
30 years ago, a Chimpanzee named Chita was donated to a zoo facility in Antwerp, Belgium. Initially, he was nurtured as a pet, but his caregivers decided to give him away as he started ageing. It took him some time to adjust to his zoo life with other members of his species, but now he is well adapted.
A woman named Adie Timmermans has been banned by the Antwerp-based zoo after officials noticed her growing closeness with 38-year-old Chita, a chimpanzee, Newsweek reported on Wednesday.
Timmermans had been a frequent visitor at the zoo, where she dropped by every week to spend time with Chita. This has been going on for four years. The two have been known for waving and blowing kisses at each other through the glass separation.
Recently, however, zoo officials realised that the chimpanzee’s fondness and inclination towards the woman were detaching him from the other chimps in the facility, who had begun excluding him.
As a measure to prevent Chita from spending 15 hours alone in his enclosure, the zoo authorities have barred Timmermans from entry into the facility.
“When Chita is constantly surrounded by visitors, the other animals ignore him and don’t consider him part of the group. He then sits on his own outside of visiting hours. An animal that is too focused on people is less respected by its peers and we want Chita to be a chimpanzee as much as possible”, the report quoted zookeeper Sarah Latauf as saying.
The zookeepers still fear that Chita, who is more interactive with humans, will never be able to gel well with other chimps at the zoo.
A 2014 study on the big monkey species claimed that chimps separated from their mothers at a young age and raised primarily by humans showed “social deficiencies” compared to other members of their genesis as they get older.