Fauna’s new family members

December 13, 2007 • Posted in

On November 6, 2007, Maya, Sophie, and Spock - three chimpanzees from the now closed Quebec City Zoo - arrived at their new permanent home at the Fauna Foundation sanctuary in Montreal.  Their transition has been full of wonder, challenges, and the generosity of their new friends like Sue Ellen and Pepper, who have been at Fauna for 10 years. 

“We are very happy to report that they are adapting nicely to their new home,” relays Fauna founder and director Gloria Grow. “We are all delighted to have Maya, Sophie, and Spock join our chimpanzee family.”

She continues: “Spock is gentle, savvy, and easy going. Maya is sweet and engaging, after her initial short bout of shyness. She was the first to start grooming Sue Ellen through protective bars. Sophie is a bit more reserved and more of an observer. But she is excited and delighted to have free choice of fruits and vegetables. She seems to already know that there will always be enough—and not rations—so she has stopped taking Maya’s fruit which, of course, has given Maya a whole new lease on life’s little delights as well!”

The three chimpanzees were used in cognitive behavioral research when they were young. They were subsequently transferred to the Quebec City Zoo, where despite good care, they still lived the life of a zoo chimpanzee – constantly “on display” with strangers all around them.  The three chimpanzees arrived accompanied by their favorite caregiver who moved into Fauna for some weeks to help with their transition. After decades at the zoo, the zoo was forced to close as a result of city development. When it closed, Fauna immediately said yes to providing the chimpanzees lifetime care.

“When we first introduced them to their new enclosures, Sophie walked right in, sending a message to Maya and Spock that all was safe. It was moving to know that our sanctuary felt comfortable to them right from go,” explained Gloria in a recent phone interview. Sue Ellen, Pepper, and Jethro were the most delighted to meet them.

Their first night was restful - a positive sign - although the Fauna chimps did their fair share of making a lot of loud noise.  But, given how the three new arrivals reacted, they all calmed down with only periodic interruptions of more hoots and hollers.

The enclosures provided to the new arrivals are spacious and afford them several different living options… a large room, smaller rooms, outdoor access, and overhead chutes which, according to Gloria, is already Maya’s favorite spot. Said Gloria: “Their main living area includes neighbors on either side. Like any ‘new neighborhood’ arrangement, one set of neighbors was very welcoming and showed special interest.  Sue Ellen and Pepper seem, in the chimp world, to manifest all the qualities of great neighbors:  interested but patient, and very helpful in bridging the sometimes difficult or scary transition into a new home.”

Finally, after a few weeks of getting to know each other, when the right opportunity presented itself, Gloria lifted the bars between them and the five met openly for the first time, with lots of greetings, hugging, and grooming.

“I am thrilled not only for Maya, Sophie, and Spock, but for our current residents as well. Our holidays at Fauna are going to be that much richer this season because it seems that we all – chimps and humans alike - understand the importance of being kind to strangers and welcoming them as family.”

Plans are to foster socializing Maya, Sophie, and Spock with other Fauna residents as well. Fauna reports great progress is being made to this end as each individual reaches out to whom they want to get to know when they are ready. Gloria feels confident that “it’s only a matter of time!”

Photos courtesy Fauna Foundation


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