HOUSTON -- At the Houston Zoo, the greetings were face to face. As visitors walked up to the glass at the African Forest enclosure, the newest chimps walked up too.
“It brings tears to my eyes because I love these chimpanzees,” visitor Sheree Davis said. “It was just awesome because they’re so individual.”
In addition to the ten chimps already there, the zoo has added six more. They were seized from a private compound in Virginia.
Officials said the previous owners treated them like family but lacked the proper licensing. At one point the chimps even escaped.
“And they wanted to keep them together,” said Beth Schaefer with the Houston Zoo. “They had been living as a group for several years and it’s really important for chimps and their social lives to live as a family unit. So we had the space and we were able to keep all six together. So here they are.”
Their names are Toby, Kenya, Tanzee, Kira, Chaos and Sierra. They are between 10 and 17 years old.
At one point there was even a birthday party with monkey treats spread about in bright bags for chimps. Officials say they are finally safe.