Zoos and sanctuaries
requesting participation in the ChimpanZoo program have many questions.
Most frequently asked is "What do I get from being part of the
The answer to this question depends on the person asking: the zoo or sanctuary
administrator benefits from positive publicity, research information about
their chimpanzee community (comparable to other chimpanzee communities), data
for public presentations, fund raising opportunities, a morale boost for staff
and volunteers, and an opportunity to showcase their zoo or sanctuary at annual
conferences. All of these benefits are important ingredients in any fund raising
The research director's compensation is an established research program that
works. The ChimpanZoo research program's ethogram and software for data collection
were designed by a consortium of scientists and tested in zoos, then revised,
making data collection more comprehensive and easier to teach and use. The
data collection system includes software programs especially designed for testing
the reliability of observers (within a zoo and between zoos), in addition to
software that computes a kappa score of reliability. Data recorded can be retrieved
for one zoo in particular or combined with data from other participating zoos,
for one chimpanzee or several, meeting specified criteria. Lastly, data for
publications are easily extracted for presentation. For example, one participating
zoo built a modern enclosure that keepers believed lacked sufficient zoo furniture
or architectural design for young chimpanzees to develop good muscle tone and
for adults to exercise sufficiently for good health. Data collected from ChimpanZoo
observers showed that the chimpanzees moved about the enclosure little, staying
in one shaded area. The Board of Directors of the zoo voted to build a climbing
structure of several tiers with ropes for swinging and a much needed expanded
shaded area. Subsequent data revealed that the new structure was used extensively.
Zoo volunteers have access to educational opportunities such as classroom instruction
in chimpanzee behavior, biology, and conservation. Volunteers are also taught
data collection techniques and are given the opportunity to conduct research
and a medium for the presentation of their research at annual ChimpanZoo Conferences.
Bound and distributed compilations of papers presented at annual conferences,
or Conference Proceedings, are published and reside in the libraries of chimpanzee
research facilities, such as the Wisconsin Regional Primate Information Center
and the National Primate Research Center. Annual Proceedings are also purchased
by individuals and other institutions.
Participation in ChimpanZoo also benefits chimpanzee keepers by encouraging
and providing enrichment ideas, information on chimpanzees and opportunities
to exchange information with colleagues. Keepers may work as local coordinators
and observers, recording and delivering information from their studies.
Participating zoos work with faculty advisors from local universities. Academic
advisers also benefit from the program through access to data collected for
publications. Data may also be used for special studies independently funded.
ChimpanZoo data provides an excellent resource for undergraduate and graduate
All of the arduous work designing and establishing ChimpanZoo would be wasted
if the chimpanzees did not benefit from the program. In addition to the aforementioned
assistance with structural designs of chimpanzee enclosures, ChimpanZoo has
provided valuable information about husbandry techniques, infant care and aging
needs, and other enrichment programs that directly improve the quality of life
The second most frequently asked question is "What is it going to cost
me?" ChimpanZoo data collection materials are inexpensive and can be used
with conventional computer systems. An employee of the participant zoo is designated
to keep the zoo director and the director of ChimpanZoo informed of program
activities. Communication is also accomplished through monthly reports, ChimpanZoo
List Serve, newsletters, conferences and site visits. In addition, each zoo
has an on site coordinator to work with local volunteer observers and to facilitate
communication between the participating zoo and ChimpanZoo central. The Program
charges a small fee for newsletters, requests funding for its program materials
and asks that the zoo sponsor a delegate to annual conferences.
I believe that the rewards of participating in ChimpanZoo enormously justify
the small financial costs. ChimpanZoo provides an invaluable opportunity for
us to record the genealogy, life history, personality traits, and behavior
of chimpanzees in zoos and sanctuaries while fulfilling our obligations to
learn more about them and provide the best living environment and care possible.