The original plan was to bring all
chimpanzees from the surrounding zoos (Giza and Alexandria ) to
Giza to put them together but, we needed to compromise due to
practicality and animal health issues.
Both zoo directors
(Alexandria and Giza) were concerned about not having chimpanzees
in Alexandria Zoo. I was concerned about Moza’s health and
housing. Moza was isolated from the other chimpanzees so she
was transferred into the chimpanzee building. Besides her
tumor, Moza had a heart condition (a condition of which I was not
previously aware of)
and difficulty breathing when stressed; these health issues
changed plans. Rather than placing her with an entire group
of “strange” chimpanzees, a potentially stressful situation,
we introduced her to only one animal - Kuku. He was a well
mannered male by nature and it seemed to be the right choice.
This one-on-one pairing was better for Kuku as well since this was
the first time he ever been with another chimpanzee. Moza
initially spent time hanging from high above while Kuku was
completely ignoring her (looking for human contact only).
After a week or so the chimpanzees began to interact and are now
getting along well. Moza’s tumor problem needs to be
resolved. After the surgery, the tumor came back and
appears to be causing her discomfort. Another option could
be for the Giza Zoo to consult with Dr. Ahmed El Saiid,
human expert in tumors and cancer in this matter to help with the
We also introduced
the pair to the babies. We had limited cages available since
the orangutans were occupying 3 connected cages in the chimpanzee
building ideal for introductions. Therefore, the orangutans
were locked outside during the day to allow use of these inside
cages for the introductions. To do this, we were
transporting the babies from one cage to another during the dyadic
All cages lacked
substrates prior to the introductions; all animals received straw,
palm leaves and paper. It was challenging to convince people
to do this, but then rewarding to see their faces when the animals
began building nests the first time in their lives. The
reason behind the apprehension against using substrate was a
potential for fire where people smoked a lot and throw the
cigarette butts into the cages. I suggested two things.
The first suggestion was to use the appropriate substrate
inside vs. outside, meaning that inside they can use paper
products and hay or straw, etc., while outside they can give sand,
soil, mulch, fresh browse, etc., materials that cannot be set on
fire. The second suggestion was for the zoo to modify its
smoking policy, just as we did in Phoenix. While
prohibiting smoking throughout Egypt is not feasible, the zoo
could create designated smoking areas (tables, chairs,
ashtrays, garbage cans) for the visitors and direct them to these
areas to smoke. The keepers should not smoke in front of the
visitors at all and should not smoke inside the animals' night
houses and/or next to the animals. Keepers need to have
designated smoking areas as well, but behind the scenes, out of
visitor view and should only smoke during their breaks.
Engy and Misho
happily playing in the middle of their nest.
Now all the
chimpanzees are together and are outside.
It is a much
smaller zoo but generally facing the same difficulties.
We introduced the 3
males together (Oscar, Meshmesh and Fatuta). They became
practically inseparatable; when we tried to separate them for the
night, they ran to each other, hugged, walked holding each
other’s waist and would not depart.
Oscar, Meshmesh and
Fatuta at Alex Zoo
The outside cage
hammock was elevated to a much higher position.