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     Hilda Tresz                          Global Volunteer Work


Chile     China    Egypt    India    Ivory Coast Qatar Senegal

United Arab Emirates



                                                                                                                                                              Changsha Zoo


The purpose of the visit was to introduce 2.1 chimpanzees and to give recommendations regarding basic husbandry routine and enrichment for all species.

Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes ?) Subspecies unknown.

 Suggestions: Subspecies needs to be determined by DNA testing.


Kabu M 14 LianLian M 12 Sachiko F 26  



Initial plan was to introduce the two males so they could work out their differences and there would not be a disagreement regarding access to female later.

Plan had changed due to LianLian being considerably smaller, had unusual behaviors such as loudly screaming for no apparent reasons or holding his leg while walking. He was also much intimidated by both chimpanzees. First, he was introduced to the female and they were left alone to bond. Then, they were introduced together to Kabu so they could support each other.  


The plan worked well, to the point when Kabu was rougher than he should have been, the others chased him around until he was exhausted. Kabu had calmed down and they are together ever since.


LianLian had skin condition and needed immediate attention. Consultant provided crash course training program regarding how to spray medication onto animals using positive enrichment.


Follow up.

Later, a more detailed shaping plan was provided via email. The skin condition of Lianlian is the same as before. Treatment is difficult due to public feeding the animals. Therefor animals are not willing to come inside due to full stomach; the spray-skin treatment had been suspended for a while.
The zoo needs to take actions to prevent visitors from feeding and being able to feed animals especially since Kabu is already under treatment for a digestive problem. The use of volunteers would be very helpful for preventing public feedings.


Chimpanzee exhibits

The chimpanzee exhibit was satisfactory in size. Animals were rotated on exhibit.


The night houses were large enough, made of concrete, metal and glass; lacked most furniture and substrate. Hay, paper and browse was immediately added for nest building and to take animals off of the unyielding surface.


Suggestion: To further improve quality, some flexible furniture needs to be installed in each night quarter. Animals need both flexible and permanent structures in order to exhibit proper motor skills. 

All off exhibit areas should utilize three dimensions by adding large tree trunks, ropes, fire hoses, hammocks, wooden shelves, etc., to increase space and provide opportunities for exercise, exploration and manipulation. 

All cages are to be filled with substrate, browse, logs and branches. Also since pape ris readily available in China, all animals should receive newspapers, phone books, paper bags, etc., in the night houses for nest building.


Follow up:

Changsha zoo has been continuously making enrichment improvements ever since the consultation providing substrate and scattered diet.



Heated floor

The general assumption was the substrate cannot be provided on heated floor due to being flammable.  . 


All animals can have substrate on heated floor. Another option would be turning off the heat in one night house and provide deep bedding for nest building while leaving the heat on in the other and give the animals a choice.


Follow up

Consultant also confirmed with Dr. Steve Ross, SSP coordinator regarding substrate use on heated floor.


General propositions:


The majority of the species were kept in extremely large, beautiful, safari park style exhibits that any institution could be proud of.  

Night houses, off exhibit areas and correct substrate use

Since most animals lived in large exhibits and/or in proper social groups, our focus was mostly on improving the “off exhibit” areas. Special attention needs to be paid to all the night houses and off exhibit holding areas, where animals spend an average 14-17 hours in concrete/bar cages or situations where an animal needs to be kept isolated for any reason.



Continuing to keep animals off of very hot or very cold, persistently wet, unyielding surfaces (brick, concrete, etc.) would be desirable. The use of appropriate substrate (inside- paper products, hay or straw, etc.; outside- nonflammable materials such as grass, sand, soil, mulch, fresh browse, etc.) will make a significant difference not only in the animals’ health but also in improvement of the exhibit aesthetics.



The zoo has large amount of edible vegetation available on grounds that could provide fresh, leafy branches (browse).


Browse should be provided at least every 2-3 days, but if possible, every day for animals that need them. The zoo can start planting edible trees, bushes and even crops inside and outside of exhibits, along visitor pathways and resting areas that will provide future browsing materials for growing collection demands. Whether cut by staff or available by natural damage, fallen vegetation can be used rather than wasted.


Extending foraging time

All animals need to be fed in a way that their foraging time is extended and proper species-specific behaviors are encouraged. If no one can be appointed for this position, staff can be scheduled to cut browse and chop diet on a rotation basis.



The following power point presentations were given to all staff:


        Lack of Substrate Use in Zoos addresses the easy fix of empty cages and shows how much benefit there is in the animals’ lives when provided with substrate; i.e., when they do not have to sit inside of empty concrete cages. This is probably the most important animal welfare presentation to give out of the five.

        Contra-freeloading at the Phoenix Zoo presentation talks about making animals work for their food in similar ways as they would in the wild instead of eating diet in short period of time from metal dishes or rubber tubs.

        Beneficial Browse gives guidelines regarding how to develop a zoo-wide browse program with numerous browse gardens in the middle of the Sonoran Desert with no money; it also addresses the major changes that fresh, leafy greens can make in the animals’ lives.

        Let Them Be Elephants addresses the changes we made in our elephants’ lives, how we helped their behaviors by teaching them how to forage right and behave like normal females; it also talks about basic husbandry, enrichment ideas and health care.


Presentations are available at htrez@thephxzoo.com


Follow up

The accreditation standards and related policies of Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) Care Manual of Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the South African National Standards were provided and is being translated to Chinese in collaboration of the Jane Goodall Institute and Animals asia.


I would like to thank the Changsha Zoo’s director and staffs as well as the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG) for their incredible hospitality, making me feel so welcomed.

I would also like to thank Animalsasia for funding and organizing this trip and to establish such a wonderful, working relationship between the Jane Goodall Institute, the Phoenix Zoo and Changsha Zoo.




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