Belgian Adie Timmermans (53) is not consoled by the letter she received from the zoo. In it I asked her not to contact the chimpanzee Chita, whom she visits weekly. “We’re having an affair, I’ll just say,” Addy told the regional TV channel. ATV.
It’s rare for someone to come for a particular animal, says Emil Prinz, GaiaZOO’s zoo director. “Of course there are many visitors who have their favorite species of animals. Regular visitors get to know the animals, but on the contrary, it doesn’t happen so quickly,” he told EditieNL.
Few animals are ever able to recognize visitors: monkeys, crows, and parrots can. Park rangers are keeping a close eye on it. “Some of the accommodations also have a sign saying ‘Please don’t knock on the windows. This can be annoying to the animals.'”
Define your behavior
According to Prinz, animals should be able to determine their own behavior as closely as possible. “We do this by building natural enclosures. This really creates a distance between humans and animals. They also have a spacious enclosure, where they can pull themselves up if they need to.”
Despite the spacious enclosures, there is regular interaction between humans and animals. And that’s not so dramatic: Sometimes it’s a good distraction for animals, says behavioral biologist Patrick van Veen. “But you want the chimpanzee to build a relationship with his own group. If something happens between them, conflicts and quarrels arise within the group. We should avoid that,” he told EditieNL.
“The most famous example is Boquito. He was in contact with a woman who visited him. The gorilla got angry with her in the end. He jumped over the canals and attacked her. He wanted to make it clear that she was part of the group: then you also have to act according to my desires and those of the group,” explains Van Veen.
Do not disrupt the dynamics
Van Veen thinks Antwerp ZOO’s decision is a good one. Things often go wrong when zoos wait too long. “Fortunately, these relationships don’t happen very often, but when they do they cause problems on both sides. Try to disrupt group dynamics as little as possible.”
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