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                                                                                                 Hilda Tresz                          Global Volunteer Work

               Argentina    Chile    China    Egypt    India    Ivory Coast    Qatar    Senegal    United Arab Emirates



Hangzhou Zoo   1st Report  

2nd Report 


December 6, 2014 


Short, one-day, follow-up visit regarding chimpanzees and elephants, as well as answering further questions of  staff regarding basic husbandry, enrichment, training, reproduction, etc. 




Mingming F; 15 years old Laosan (No.3) M; 6 years old  Laowu (No.5) M; 5 years old 
Laoda (No.1) F; 9 years old Laosi (No. 4) F; 6 years old Laoliu(No.6)  F; 5 years old 
Laoer (No.2) M; 7 years old

The Hangzhou Zoo’s chimpanzees were found separated into two groups, because one of the adult females, Mingming, kept biting the younger animals. The groups seemed to be doing well enough being housed next to each other and could interact through the mesh.

The zoo debated over which female they should send away for cooperative breeding. Mingming, age 15, was chosen. Laoda, although nicer to the younger chimpanzees, is only 9 years old and considered being too young.  

Suggestions: For the sake of the chimpanzees, especially the young ones, it would be beneficial if the groups were put back together in the absence of Mingming. If they are kept in two groups, one group will be without a more mature female. Although Laoda is not yet an adult (body and mind), she is considerably older than most of the group members and could provide some guidance for others. Please review life stages and age related information as per Center for Great Apes.


Birth – 5 years (nursed and carried by mother)


5 – 8 years (still with mother but independent of her for transport and milk)

Early Adolescence:

Female: 8 – 10 years Male: 8 – 12 years

Late Adolescence:

Female: 11 – 14 years Male: 13 – 15 years


16 – 33 years

Old Age:

33 years – death


Center for Great Apes- Treatment of Apes


“Young females learn to be mothers by watching their mothers and helping with younger siblings. Young males follow around after adult males, spending less and less time with their mothers as they grow older. At 13 to 15 years of age, chimpanzees spend most of their time with adult males and females in estrus. For females, late adolescence begins with the onset of estrus cycles and adolescent sterility and ends with the ability to reproduce. Some females transfer to another community for a brief period, and reproduce with males in that community. Chimpanzees are mature at 16 to 20 years of age; old age begins at 33 years in the wild. Wild chimpanzees may live to be 40 or 50 years old or more.” The oldest chimpanzees in captivity were Cheetah, 76. Little Mama, 74 and Gregoire, 66.


It would be beneficial for staff to understand the different aggression levels of chimpanzees and at what point animals need to be separated. Chimpanzees fight all the time. Chasing, hitting, pushing, pulling, stomping on each other’s backs and even small biting are considered “every day conversations.”

It also needs to be understood that displaying is a natural, normal behavior for male chimpanzees at any age and males should not be separated from their group members due to carrying out these behaviors.

“Displays: It is important to provide opportunities for chimpanzees to move, hit on, shake or throw objects in their environment as part of their species-appropriate displays. Care should be taken that these objects are adequately fixed or that they are not able to cause damage to the enclosure, other chimpanzees or to human staff or visiting public.” Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Chimpanzee Care Manual, 2010


Free Chimpanzee Enrichment PowerPoint was given.

Diet information was sent by follow-up email on January 12, 2015.

The zoo’s chimpanzees are in good hands, with a dedicated staff that is really trying to improve.

The zoo also installed watering systems for the chimpanzees in order for them to have fresh drinking water at all times.



General proposition

Several meetings were held in small groups with staff depending on specific interest (chimpanzee, elephant and carnivore) about substrate use and general animal keeping questions such as diet, temperature, etc. Around 164 husbandry manuals, SSP manuals, studbook information, books in downloaded formats, Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZAB) accreditation standards and articles, power point presentations, etc. were provided.



Zoo started to make some changes. Two tires were hung and a small pile of sand was brought in.

Suggestions: Having bigger sand piles would be more beneficial for the elephants. Also, substrate needs to cover the concrete inside the night houses.



Body score system was provided by Phoenix Zoo Veterinarian Kristen Phair and was sent via follow-up email.

Mandrill SSP manual and some basic social reproduction information were sent by follow-up email on January 12, 2015.

Hangzhou Zoo is progressing forward. Most animals now have substrate in their cages, including carnivores.

Winter Care

Chimpanzees can be allowed outside for limited time during the winter; however, they need to have access to inside heat and provided with extra blankets. Some institutions keep to a temperature guideline and will only let their chimpanzees out if the temperature reaches 10-13 C, while others, such as Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, USA, allow the chimpanzees to make their own decision. It is important to remember to provide chimpanzees the opportunity to seek warmth if allowed outdoor access during cold weather, and there might be a temperature so low that outdoor access is inappropriate. The only time they don't allow them outside is when heavy, wet snow reduces the voltage on their electric fence.

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csnw chimpanzee snow

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Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary, U.K.              Saint Louis Zoo, USA


See-through curtains made from heavy-duty plastic strips can be hung inside the night houses to keep the animals warm. Management must take into consideration the type of enclosure, the animals’ behavior and characteristics, the materials used, if it would prevent the animals from exiting or entering the enclosure, etc. 

Suggestions: The method used by the Chester Zoo, England is simple. Strips of thick, clear ARCO PVC is cut to the length of the slide and the holes are drilled in the PVC. A strong, thick metal plate, which has the same amount of holes drilled in it, is lined up and bolted onto the wall. This makes it a lot easier to take off and replace the broken or torn PVC strips. 

Slide with ARCO plastic strips attached to the wall


I would like to thank the Hangzhou Zoo’s directors and staff, as well as the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, for inviting me back and continuing to improve their animals’ welfare.

I would also like to thank Animals Asia Foundation for funding and organizing this trip and establishing such a wonderful, working relationship between the Jane Goodall Institute, the Phoenix Zoo and the Hangzhou Zoo.


Hilda Tresz

Behavioral Enrichment & International Animal Welfare Coordinator

Mentor, The Jane Goodall Institute


Phoenix Zoo | Arizona Center for Nature Conservation

455 N. Galvin Parkway | Phoenix, AZ 85008

p 602.286.3800 x 7120 | d 602.286.3820

htresz@phoenixzoo.org | phoenixzoo.org



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