News

A very special rescue and retirement…

Posted in 03/07/2018


Bo (CGA)

From Center for Great Apes

We’re eager to share some news with you… and with some surprising developments too!

Just two weeks ago, we had an emergency call about two adult male chimpanzees in Oklahoma (Joe and Bo) who needed an immediate home. They lived in separate cages and had never been together.

Even though we’ve not yet finished our expansion construction for additional space, the need for this rescue was urgent. So, we drove to Oklahoma (with our veterinarian) and picked them up. They arrived here last week after a 22-hour drive back from Oklahoma, and we have them in our quarantine area at the veterinary clinic for the time being. They’ll eventually move over to our newer habitats when construction is finished.

Even though Joe and Bo had never been in the same space together, we introduced them after they arrived here, and it was heartwarming to see how happy they were to be with each other!  Right away, they began softly panting and laughing while they hugged and groomed one another.

Joe (believed to be in his 60s) was wild-caught, and as an infant, was used at a major Midwest zoo in their old “chimp shows”. When he grew too big to perform, he was sent to a drive-through safari park in Oklahoma. Joe and his mate Lily produced many offspring at the safari park, but the infants were sold as exotic pets or as entertainers.  Amazingly, we have four of their offspring already living here who came from entertainment and from the pet trade – Murray, twins Jonah & Jacob, and Ellie.

After the safari park closed, Joe and Lily were sent to a California trainer for use as breeders. But it didn’t work out, so Joe and Lily were moved again to a roadside zoo in Oklahoma where they were held in small cages for 11 years.  Unfortunately, Lily died there a few years ago.

The other chimpanzee, Bo, is thought to be in his 30s.  He was also in the entertainment business in California where he produced at least one infant … and then was sent to a Missouri facility before finally ending up in Oklahoma.

But what we discovered after they arrived is that our little 9-year-old Bentley (who was sent to our sanctuary in February along with two other former entertainment chimps) is actually the grandson of both these older males!

These two unrelated chimpanzees living in different states for many years each sired offspring who were used in the ape trade business.   One of Joe’s daughters and Bo’s son now live together in Missouri and are the parents of Bentley!

So they are both Bentley’s grandfathers who coincidentally ended up in Oklahoma from different owners. Joe and Bo now peacefully live together at CGA, and we refer to them as “the grandpas”.

No funding was provided for the daily care of the five newest chimpanzee residents, but we could not turn our backs on them; however, we really do need assistance with their annual care costs.  If you would like to help us with these two older male chimpanzees (Joe & Bo)… or the three youngsters who arrived four months ago (Bentley, Kenzy, and Hannah) … you can donate here.

As always, we are so grateful for your support of our work to help great apes!