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Kendall the Chimp, Part 3
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Home > Field Reports > Kendall the Chimp, Part 3

Kendall the Chimp, Part 3

by Kelly Murphy
October 22, 2009

After Kendallís first couple of introductions at the North Carolina Zoo, and in order to move forward with his socialization, staff members knew that Kendall was going to need to be with a chimp who understood that he was different and special. After a lot of consideration, it was decided that we would try to introduce him to a 36 year-old female named Tammy.

Tammy is a gentle and laid back chimp who is the mother of Maki, another chimp in the troop. At the time, she was also a low-ranking chimp who rarely showed aggression towards others in the group. Keepers believed that she might be the perfect chimp to introduce to Kendall, due to her mothering instincts and her calm personality.

However, we had to think long and hard about this. It had taken almost two years to safely introduce Tammy to the North Carolina troop of chimps when she arrived in 1992. Taking Tammy away from other chimps to live with Kendall for an extended period of time might make it difficult to put her back with the group if she and Kendall didnít get along. This next introduction was a big step, but we felt that it would be a positive one.

On July 31, 2007, Tammy was introduced to Kendall. Kendall seemed very nervous, most likely since his last encounters with chimps were a little scary for him. At first, Kendall kept his distance from Tammy and just kept watching her. If Tammy made an effort to approach Kendall, he began to scream and fear grimace. Tammy did not attempt to dominate Kendall when he screamed as the other chimps had, but instead slowly moved away and into another room. This happened several times over the first few days of the introduction. Each day, however, Kendall seemed less and less afraid of Tammy, until the two were living comfortably with one another. After a couple of weeks, Kendall allowed Tammy to sit and eat right by him, and a few days after that, the two were seen playing with one another!

Things were going very well with Tammy and Kendall, but keepers knew Tammy needed to maintain bonds with some of the other females while she was helping to socialize Kendall. As a result, we decided to put another female with the two chimps. It was believed that Kendall would have a better second experience with Ruthie, especially with Tammyís influence. So on August 6, 2007, Tammy was separated from Kendall, and on August 7, 2007, Tammy and Ruthie were introduced to Kendall together. Tammy and Kendall continued to interact as they had, but Ruthie still took very little interest in him. She even chased Kendall several times, making her presence more frightening than anything else. It soon became obvious that Ruthieís presence at this important time of Kendallís socialization would only cause him to become more fearful of other chimps, instead of allowing him to build trust in them. So, after much consideration, on August 10, 2007, Ruthie was removed from the Tammy and Kendall grouping.

Once Ruthie was removed, Kendall appeared much more relaxed. It wasnít long before Tammy and Kendall were observed grooming and playing on almost a daily basis. Even though the two appeared content, keepers knew Tammy needed some female companionship. We also knew the more chimps Kendall was successfully introduced to, the more likely he would begin learning how to be a chimp.

The keepers talked about who would be the best chimp to place with Kendall and Tammy; and after much thought they decided on 13 year-old Maki, Tammyís daughter. Maki is a smart and playful chimp, who is often seen interacting with and grooming other chimps. She has good relationships with most of the chimps in the North Carolina Zoo troop, which would benefit Kendall in further introductions if the two were to form a bond. So, on September 10, 2007, Maki was introduced to Kendall and Tammy.

When a chimpanzee is put into any type of new social grouping, the first thing it usually does is attempt to dominate any lower-ranking chimpanzees in that group. When Maki was introduced to Kendall and Tammy, Maki automatically went up to Kendall and demonstrated her dominance by hitting Kendall. Keepers were surprised when Tammy immediately stepped in and chased Maki away from Kendallóusually females with strong bonds generally back one another up in these kinds of situations. This proved to the keepers that the bond between Kendall and Tammy was very strong also.

Maki did not attempt to dominate Kendall again. She began acting very much like her mother, slowly approaching Kendall and moving away when he showed signs of being nervous. It did not take long for Kendall to trust Maki, as the two were observed playing with one another just a few days after the introduction. This was a huge step for Kendall, as it had taken him much longer to warm up to Tammy. Keepers felt that Kendall was finally on his way to having an enriching life with other chimpanzees.

Now that Kendall was with two females the keepers thought maybe the next step would be putting a male in with this new little troop. But, which male would it be? Weíll discuss this issue in the next installment of Kendallís story.

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mugshotAbout the author:

Kelly Murphy has been a chimpanzee, lion, and patas monkey keeper at the North Carolina Zoo since 2007.

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