GAP BRAZIL: Alex and his different way of eating “feijoada”

Posted in 14/02/2018

Alex (GAP)

Chimpanzee Alex is more than 30 years old. He has no teeth and apparently they were all surgically extracted in the circus where he used to live since he was a newborn. Besides Brazil, this circus traveled by the countries of South America.

When he arrived at the Great Primates Sanctuary of Sorocaba, something that surprised us was when we gave him a blanket and he began to scream desperately. The blanket seemed to lead him to mistreating memories of the former captivity and apparently it was used, wet, to beat him. It’s our guess, we’ve never had a similar case. After a while we were able to make him relax and teach him to use the blanket to shelter and warm during cold nights.

When it takes confidence, Alex is extraordinarily affectionate and looks for the human contact to do “grooming” in the hairs of the hands and arms of the humans, like a pleasure.

Here we see him in front of keeper Merivan Miranda, with whom he feels confident after a period of mistrust. He sits in front of her in the days “feijoada”is served, usually on Saturdays, and eats his dish in a very peculiar way. Gently picking up each grain of beans, sausage and other components of the dish, one by one, and eat with a unique treat.

Alex belongs to the group of former circus chimpanzees who had their teeth wickedly ripped off when they were very young. He lives with two females, also toothless: Jamaica, who came from a private zoo in Sergipe, and Margareth, who is already 50 years old – she lived in Sorocaba Zoo and then went to the private breeding facility in the south of Brazil (which does not exist anymore), before go to the sanctuary with her sons Noel and Emilio. Alex has the privilege of living with two females. The lack of teeth forces us to join them, since, in addition to the lack of teeth to eat, they are also a defense of the chimpanzees. Alex lived with Carolina, who died of breast cancer a few years ago, but she had teeth and Alex, despite being a male, had to be totally submissive to her.

Dr. Pedro A. Ynterian

General Secretary, GAP Project International