Nearly 50-year-old chimpanzee Blackie chimp will finally live together with his peers; transference to GAP Sanctuary depends only on the approval of the Mayor of Sorocaba

Posted in 11/11/2014


From what is known of his history, Blackie and three other chimpanzees were “artistic” figures in Tihany Circus, in Brazil. Rescued by the environmental police, he went to Ribeirão Preto  zoo and, due to a treatment for a scorpion sting, he was transferred to the zoo “Quinzinho de Barros” in Sorocaba, São Paulo state.

Blackie lives in the zoo for more than 40 years, most of them in the company of Rita. But the female chimp died in 2011 and since then he lives by himself.

Without any representative of his species so he can exchange glances, touches, hugs and vocalizations, he is simply an attraction to audiences of thousands of people visiting Sorocaba Zoo.

In 2004, when his enclosure was under renovation, he and Rita lived for a while at GAP Sanctuary in Sorocaba, affiliated to GAP project. At that moment, there was an unsuccessful attempt to them stay permanently at the sanctuary.

In 2013, philosopher and professor at Princeton University, in United States, Peter Singer, author, among other works, of the book “Animal Liberation” – one of the major references for the development of the various movements in defense of animal rights – wrote a letter to the Mayor of Sorocaba, Antonio Carlos Pannunzio, requesting the transfer of Blackie for GAP Sanctuary.

Pannunzio was the first mayor of the city to visit the sanctuary and to attest its importance as a reference on the best conditions in which large primate can live in captivity – large spaces, socializing with their peers and the absence of intense, noisy and systematic visitations.

The talks on the possible transfer of Blackie continued and today we celebrate a breakthrough with the outpouring of support from the Secretary of Government of the Mayor of Sorocaba. Now Pannunzio just have to use his pen to put an end in Blackie’s suffering, so that his story might end differently from that of his companion, Rita.


The letter written by Peter Singer to the Mayor of Sorocaba:

“Mr. Mayor of Sorocaba,

I learned that in Sorocaba Zoo there is a male chimpanzee – Blackie -, who lives there in captivity for over 20 years. Today he lives alone, but he had a mate once with whom he breed, but did not have the opportunity to care for their puppy, taken off them at the time.

Chimpanzees are a species critically endangered in the wild and is protected by CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Blackie belongs to a highly gregarious species, and this means he needs fellowship with other chimpanzees. But currently he is deprived of this social interaction, which sets up an unhealthy condition of captivity

Several scientific experiments have proved that apes possess mental attributes very similar to the human species and their public exposure, exhibition in zoos and use as a mere object of human entertainment is unacceptable these days.

On the other hand, in the same city there is a Great Apes Sanctuary, affiliated to GAP – Great Ape Project, with ideal conditions for receiving Blackie as a permanent dweller.

So I come across this letter and ask to Your Lordship that Blackie is sent to the Sanctuary, where he can live with several other members of his species, manifesting their normal social behavior.”