Officials in Virginia had given the chimp’s owners a June 23rd deadline to move at least four of the animials because of safety concerns. Several of the chimps had escaped from their home.
Beth Schaefer is the Houston Zoo’s Curator of Primates and Carnivores.
“We’re lucky in that they’re already living together as a group so that will really help. We’re just really happy to be able to help out in this situation because they were facing very uncertain circumstances so the fact that we have the ability to mobilize quickly and that we have the staff to accommodate is a great thing.”
Schaefer says keeping the family of chimpanzees together was the biggest concern.
“To try to split them all up and put them in different places would be really, really traumatic for them as individuals. They wouldn’t necessarily know how to get along with other chimps. It could ultimately doom them to a life alone, which when you have a social primate, is a really awful thing. So the primary things that everyone was thinking of was that we have to keep these animals together.”
The Houston Zoo has the newest and largest chimpanzee habitat in the country and is already home to ten chimps.
Schaefer hopes the move takes place before the end of the year.