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        Hilda Tresz                                                                                                                                                                  Global Volunteer Work

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India (orthographic projection)    

     Mysore Zoo 


The purpose of the visit was to introduce a singly housed chimpanzee in the Mysore Zoo to another chimpanzee and to reorganize basic husbandry routine and start an enrichment plan for all species in both zoos.

Mysore Zoo March 24-29, 2013

Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes ?) Subspecies unknown.

 Suggestions: Subspecies needs to be determined by DNA testing.  

  1. Wali –solitary male, alone for 49 years due to previous aggression towards chimpanzees introduced to him.
  2. Guru male, 21 years old, hairless together with Ganga female, 52 years old
  3. Mason male, 20 years old together with Mirella female, 23 years old


Guru, world famous hairless chimpanzee at Mysore Zoo


Guru along with Ganga was transferred from Chennai Zoo to Mysore Zoo on 11/08/2003 to improve their welfare by gaining a more appropriate, open enclosure. It was reported that at that time Guru was a “hairless mutant, confiscated from the circus for rehabilitation”.

Although Guru was kept with another chimpanzee, the exhibit was fenced off of public view due to negative perception.

Suggestions: Public education with signs and volunteers explaining Guru’s situation could change public view. Example of Moza’s (chimpanzee) situation in Giza Zoo, Egypt was brought up as an example. Moza was kept away from humans for years due to having a large lump on her neck and the intolerance of the Egyptian people of sicknesses and deformation. Once a sign was made and her situation explained, the same people who shunned her now embraced her situation and accepted her. Contact information of Chimpanzee SSP and studbook keeper was also provided.



Moza hidden from public eye due to her large lump in Giza Zoo, Egypt



Moza’s sign explaining her sickness                   Mosa is now exhibited together with Kuku outside


Chimpanzee exhibits


The two chimpanzee exhibits were very satisfactory. They were large, spacious, with plenty of trees, shades, natural soil, grass and climbing structures.



The night houses were also large, laid out in a half circle, all connected, excellent for introductions. They were made of concrete bars had wooden benches and lacked substrates. Furniture was built from wooden materials (as opposed to metal) as it should be in high temperature countries.

Suggestion: To further improve quality, some flexible furniture needs to be installed in each night quarters. Animals need both 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. Also, since paper is readily available in India, all animals should receive newspapers, phone books, paper bags, etc., in the night houses for nest building.


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


 1st introduction.

After careful consideration, it was decided that Ganga would be separated from Guru and introduced to Wali instead. Since both Wali and Ganga are quite elderly, they are a better match for each other, while young Guru could join the other pair.

 The introduction was successful and the two of them are living together in harmony ever since.

Wali and Ganga together

 2nd introduction.

Once the first group of chimpanzees was together, Guru was introduced to Mirella and Mason.  The introduction was successful. However, about a week after I was gone they had gotten into a fight, the pair chased Guru off and he received several bites. The introduction is continuing and I remain in contact with staff. Mr. Ravi and I email each other several times a week to keep updated on the ongoing introduction.


Suggestions: At the moment, Mirella should be together with each male for half a day to build better relationship with Guru. This way no one can outnumber Guru and no chimpanzees are alone more than half a day at the time. The chimpanzees that are paired up will be kept inside, while the solitary animal stays on exhibit in order to ease its loneliness. Once Guru and Mirella are closer friends, the 3 animals should be introduced together for short period of times (depending on their behaviors) while time is gradually increased. 


 New Delhi Zoo March 30 through April 6, 2013

 Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes ?) Subspecies unknown.

 Mani - male, 9 years old

Rita - female, 50 years old.  

Suggestions: Subspecies needs to be determined by DNA testing.  

The New Delhi Zoo had one of the best chimpanzee exhibits I have ever seen in my life. The exhibit was full of natural, dense vegetation under tall, climbable trees as well as a large, approximately 600 year old ruin of Chatri that the chimpanzees can climb and find shelter in besides their night houses.




The chimpanzees were in good health, but on the chubby side. Although diet seemed to be appropriate (the only thing missing was cooked meat products), the animals were a bit overweight.

Suggestions: Cooked beef (or other available meat products that chimpanzees had a taste for) could be added to the diet as well as starting the contra freeloading program to make the animals forage longer and exercise while foraging.

The night houses were large and all connected. They were made of concrete bars, with wooden benches but lacked substrates. Furniture was built from wooden materials (as opposed to metal) as it should be in high temperature countries.

Suggestion: To further improve quality, some flexible furniture needs to be installed in each night quarters. Animals need both 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 provide the animals opportunities for exercise, exploration and manipulation. All enclosures should be filled with substrate, browse, logs and branches. Also, since paper is readily available in India, all animals should receive newspapers, phone books, paper bags, etc., in the night houses for nest building.

Since the zoo truly has a good exhibit with sufficient night houses and the director expressed the need of additional chimpanzees, contact information for Chimpanzee SSP and studbook keeper was provided.

Suggestions: Considering the large number of chimpanzees that are being confiscated from poachers in other countries the many chimpanzees that are kept in solitary confinement and the fact that there is potential funding available for transportation in both zoos these zoos would be excellent candidates for rescuing chimpanzees from other facilities to function as sanctuaries promoting animal welfare and conservation. I found the staff dedicated and caring and I believe the animals would be well cared for.

General propositions:

 Besides chimpanzees, there were two additional areas that needed extra attention in both zoos (more than general zoo improvements); elephants and birds.


 Mysore Zoo

 In  my opinion, the Mysore Zoo has one the most beautiful Asian elephant heard in captivity,  including a young bull kept among the females at all times.




The animals seem to be in really good health with a very devoted staff. Also, with the exception of the young bull, all females are now roaming around free at night as well. The bull is only semi-restrained, being kept on an extremely long chain that enables him to walk around the exhibit with the herd at all times.

 The zoo also has 2.0 African elephants (father and son).

 New Delhi Zoo


The Delhi Zoo also has a very large and natural looking exhibit housing 1.1 Asian elephants and an African bull as well. Ongoing debate on whether isolating the African male into the empty African elephant exhibit would be less or more detrimental to him. The zoo is planning to get a female elephant, but it is taking longer than the director was hoping for.

Although the exhibit was large with natural soil and vegetation, it was monotone regarding landscape and lacked some of the necessary furniture and enrichment as well as substrate in the night quarters.


Suggestions: Substrate presentation was given in  .  Contact information of Phoenix Zoos’ Elephant Manager was provided for further consultation.


In both zoos most birds were kept in large, natural looking exhibits; however some bird enclosures lacked sufficient furniture, especially those off exhibit and the quarantine/hospital areas. On those occasions, perches were only one dimensional and usually too big. When the perch size is too large under a bird’s feet, the ligaments can elongate, the joints can be ruined and the birds can get bumble feet.

Suggestions: Live trees or large, freshtree branches that provide a variety of different diameter perches should be provided.

 Night houses, off exhibit areas and correct substrate use

All around in both zoos the animals lived in luxurious, large, green exhibits full of plants, shades and furniture 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, wet or dry, unyielding surfaces (concrete, tile, wood floor, etc.) would be desirable. The use of appropriate substrate (inside- paper products, hay or straw, etc.; outside- nonflammable materials such as 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) 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 (especially in small, unnatural environments) 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.

Appropriate social housing

All animals that are social by nature should be paired up with their conspecifics. Special attention needs to be paid to social housing of great apes and other primates. Please see attached document regarding laws and regulations for social housing of primates. The Director has been trying to get at least one additional animal for quite some time now. Contact information for Gorilla SSP and studbook keeper was given to start communication regarding getting a female gorilla for the single housed male.


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.

        The 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.

        Rita chimpanzee, a successful enrichment program at the Doha Zoo, Qatar talks about Rita, who was kept in solitary confinement in an empty cage all her life, but, later introduced to her new enrichment program as well as to a pair of chimpanzees; she now lives “happily” in a small group setting.


 Presentations are available at htresz@thephxzoo.com

 Renowned Primatologist to study chimps at Mysore Zoo  article by Deccan Herold

I would like to thank the Mysore and New Delhi Zoos’ directors and staffs as well as the Central Zoo Authority for their incredible hospitality, making me feel so welcomed.  

Hilda Tresz receiving an Award of Honor from New Delhi Zoo Management  



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