Saving Great Apes

Today is the day famous primatologist, Dr. Jane Goodall, first stepped foot in what is now called Gombe Stream National Park in 1960. Through her research, Dr. Goodall pioneered what we know about our closest living relative.

ZooTampa is committed to the conservation of species great apes. Tiffany Burns, Animal Care Manager of Primates, and I work directly with the Pan Africa Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) throughout Africa to help primates in need of care. Chimpanzees are facing many threats in the wild such as habitat loss, being hunted for bush meat and the illegal pet trade. Due to these threats, their numbers are declining at a rapid rate. Continued conservation efforts are needed in Africa range countries to help protect this amazing species and turn their numbers around.

PASA is a 22 member organization that rescue African great apes and monkeys from unthinkable suffering. Many of the animals were orphaned by the bushmeat crisis and others were illegally held as pets in abusive situations. High quality care is crucial for the welfare of these animals, many of whom require specialized treatment to recover from the physical and psychological trauma endured. As part of the PASA team, Tiffany and I were tasked to create and provide specialized training for sanctuary caregivers. Since 2017, we have spent several weeks at four sanctuaries in Africa working directly with caregivers on animal welfare, behavior, cleaning, enrichment, human interaction, husbandry, nutrition, training and reintroduction. This training has an enormous impact on the quality of life of the apes and monkeys at the sanctuaries and is helping to grow the next generation of leaders in Africa to be environmental stewards and wildlife champions.

You can help great apes just by visiting the Zoo - every dollar, every ticket and every membership helps support our mission to save species on a global scale.

- Lee Ann Rottman, Vice President of Conservation