Julie Chimpanzee Makes a New Start in Albuquerque

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Julie Chimpanzee Makes a New Start in Albuquerque

Posted: 02/09/2010
Julie, a 23-year-old female chimpanzee, arrived safely in New Mexico last week and is getting settled in at her new home at Albuquerque's Rio Grande Zoo.

Julie made the move to Albuquerque from Knoxville Zoo on the recommendation of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), the program that manages the breeding and placement of chimpanzees in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The decision was made to move Julie when it became obvious she would not accept the alpha male of the chimpanzee troupe, Jimbo. The resulting tension between Julie and Jimbo disrupted the dynamics of the entire group. The decision also mirrors the normal social changes that would occur in chimpanzee troupes in the wild, where it is common for female chimps to move to new social groups when they reach maturity.

Julie and three Knoxville Zoo staff members made the first leg of the journey in a truck provided by Freightliner of Knoxville that could accommodate her special traveling requirements. Upon their arrival in Memphis, Julie and two of her keepers boarded a FedEx cargo jet for a direct flight to Albuquerque. Julie and her Knoxville keepers were greeted by Rio Grande Zoo staff and transported to her new home, where she will be allowed to adjust to her new surroundings and get acquainted with her new keepers. Knoxville Zoo keepers stayed until the end of the week to help with her transition.

"We hate to see Julie go, but it's the right thing for her and the right thing for the rest of the group," says Lisa New, director of animal collections at Knoxville Zoo. "Julie's departure from the group would be a natural occurrence in the wild, and we have every expectation that she will thrive in her new surroundings. But if it doesn't work out for any reason, she will always have a home here in Knoxville." 

Special thanks to Freightliner of Knoxville for generously providing transportation for Julie and accompanying zoo staff to Memphis.

Knoxville Zoo is located off exit 392 from Interstate 40 and is open every day except Christmas Day. The zoo is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. Currently, the zoo is open every day from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Beginning March 13, zoo hours will be weekdays from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and weekends from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Admission and ticket sales stop one hour before the zoo closes. Next-day admission is free after 3 p.m. For more information, please call 865-637-5331 ext. 300 or visit www.knoxville-zoo.org