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                                                                                                 Hilda Tresz                          Global Volunteer Work

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Hangzhou Zoo  

1st Report 2nd Report



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


Group 1:  Group 2
Bobo M; 18 years old Laoer (No.2) M; 5 years old
Mingming F ; 13 years old Laosan (No.3) M; 4 years old
Laoda (No.1) F; 7 years old  Laosi (No. 4) F; 4 years old
Laowu (No.5) M; 3 years old
Laoliu(No.6)  F ;3 years old  

Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes ?) Subspecies Unknown.


Suggestions: Subspecies needs to be determined by DNA testing.

Group 2

Bobo Mingming  No. 1(Laoda)  
Group 2
  No. 2 (Laoer)  No.3 (Laosan)    No. 4 (Laosi)  
No.5 LaowuNo. 6 Laoliu  

Chimpanzee exhibits

The tree chimpanzee exhibits were satisfactory in size although one was not used due to possible escape of younger chimpanzees.


The night houses were large enough, made of concrete, glass and metal; lacked most furniture (except wooden bench) and substrate. Straw and paper 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 quarters. 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 to the animals’ opportunities for exercise, exploration and manipulation. 

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


Follow up:

After my departure work had continued. The 1st exhibit (originally used by baby chimps) has been given to Mandrills. The other two exhibits were connected and reconstructed (mesh was strengthened; more ropes and fire hoses were added). They are now available for all the chimpanzees, two connected night houses and two connected exhibits. They are free to go inside and outside.

Browse, hay, newspaper and scattered chopped diet were added to night house cages



The five babies were forming cliques on their own (two and three animals preferring each other’s company, but all got along very well together as well). It seemed logical that they will get introduced in this formation to the adults in order to be able to stand up for each other if necessary.

Clique of three was first introduced to Laoda. They were fine with each other right away. After that, the clique of two was added to the group. The next day the male needed to be introduced because we could not get the second female (Mingming) inside. This female had behavioral problems such as unusual vocalization and body language and serve shifting problems due to fear of the night house. We were not able to get her inside during my stay. 

I assisted with her introduction via phone while I was traveling to the next zoo.  This female had behavioral problems such as unusual vocalization and body language and severe shifting problems due to fear of the night house. We were not able to get her inside during my stay.

I assisted her with the introduction via phone while I was traveling to the next zoo. The zoo staff did a great job communicating with me and  the introduction was successful. It was a shining example of perfect teamwork!

Shortly after the introduction, Mingming had a cold and needed to be separated but once she recovered, she had been regrouped with the rest.

Follow up

Mingming was isolated by the baby chimps frequently. They were not willing to play with her and the other big female did not play with her very often either, which seemingly made her frustrated.  Despite all, her appetite was normal and she had no problem getting to her diet.

Bobo unfortunately passed away in the afternoon of 26th of September. Post mortem examination revealed he had a heart attack. 

Several meetings were held regarding the new exhibit’s construction.

Some suggestions about basic husbandry, enrichment and training techniques and exhibit design were provided by the consultant.


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 are being translated to Chinese in collaboration with the Jane Goodall Institute and Animalsasia.


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:


Some animals had very large exhibits but with rock or brick flooring.




The floor should be broken up, allowing the animals to use natural soil and to have regular vegetation to grow. Grass can be planted as well. In South –East China the climate is conducive to abundant vegetation so plants can be grown in exhibits without irrigation.

Night houses, off exhibit areas and correct substrate use

Since most animals lived in large exhibits and in proper social groups, our focus was mostly on improving the “off exhibit” areas where animals were isolated due to medical or husbandry reasons or locked inside for longer periods of time for any temporary housing reasons. Special attention needs to be paid to all the night houses as well, where animals spend an average 14-17 hours in concrete/bar cages.


Continuing to keep animals off of hard or cold, 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. As mentioned during the presentation, 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 properly and behave like normal females; it also talks about basic husbandry, enrichment ideas and health care.



Presentations are available at htresz@thephxzoo.com


I would like to thank the Hangzhou Zoo’s directors 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 Hangzhou Zoo.  




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