Zoo Asks Lady Who 'Loves' Chimp And Blows Kisses Through Enclosure Weekly To 'Change Her Behavior'
Sep 10, 2021 by apost team
Correction: We previously reported that the zoo "banned" Adie Timmermans. However, Ilse Segers, the communications manager at the Antwerp Zoo, clarified in an email to People Magazine that Timmermans was not banned but asked to "change her behaviour." We regret the error.
Friendships between humans and animals are not uncommon, especially with regard to house pets.
But one example that recently came to light is between a chimpanzee in a Belgian zoo and a regular zoo visitor named Adie Timmermans. The woman, a frequent visitor of the zoo, struck up a friendship with Chita, a 38-year-old chimpanzee. But it seems that Timmermans and Chita are more than just friends, with the woman telling Belgian TV channel ATV, as reported by LadBible, that they love each other.
Unfortunately for Timmermans, the zoo workers have found that her "relationship" with the chimpanzee has not been good for him socially and so they've asked her to "change her behavior."
Timmermans has been visiting Chita each week for the last four years and has grown very attached to him. During their visits, the woman blows kisses and waves through the glass to her chimp beau. But staff at the zoo have explained their bond has negative consequences for Chita with the other animals, as he is unable to get on well with them. The zoo stated, as reported by LadBible:
"An animal that is too focused on people is less respected by its peers. We want Chita to be a chimpanzee as much as possible. Outside of visiting hours at the zoo, he has to manage 15 hours (a day) in his group. We want to give him the chance to be as happy as possible.”
Be sure to scroll down this article to see the full video
The spokesperson for the zoo also explained:
"When Chita is constantly busy with visitors, the other monkeys ignore him and don't consider him part of the group, even though that is important. He then sits on his own outside of visiting hours."
Sarah Lafaut, the curator of the Antwerp Zoo, told Radio 2 Antwerp, as reported by LadBible, that Chita grew up as a pet but was later donated to the zoo after becoming "unmanageable." She stated:
"Chita was brought to the zoo 30 years ago because he was a pet at the time and became unmanageable. He learned chimpanzee behavior with us, but the interest in humans has remained."
After arriving at the zoo, unfortunately, Chita has had trouble bonding with the other chimpanzees he's been put together with, while a fight back in 2008 even led to Chita injuring his back. Lafaut added:
"Of course we are happy when our visitors feel so involved with the animals, but animal welfare comes first here."
But Timmermans has had a hard time understanding the zoo's position, which they say is in Chita's best interest. Distraught, she said:
“I love that animal and he loves me. I haven’t got anything else. Why do they want to take that away?”
However, the zoo is adamant that Timmermans should not visit with Chita. However, the woman is having a hard time understanding what she is doing is wrong. According to The Mirror, she said:
"Chita is 38 and has been used to people from an early age. An average chimpanzees live to about 40 so his behaviour isn’t going to change now is it.”
Despite initial reports that Timmermans was banned from the zoo, Ilse Segers, the communications manager of the Antwerp Zoo, clarified that they asked the woman to "change her behavior." She is not banned from the zoo, according to an August email exchange between Segers and People Magazine.
"There is no ban to see Chita, not for any visitor at the moment," Segers wrote. "We only asked (Mrs. Timmermans) to change her behaviour towards this specific animal."
In our earlier coverage of the story, many readers came out against the "ban."
"I would ask if she was spending unusually long times each visit by the chimp enclosure to bring about this decision. If not, the problem is with the chimp being attached to all visitors not just this one, and so the keepers are tackling the problem from the wrong direction, and should maybe keep the chimp away from the public and with the group during closure," apost.com reader Robert David Sedgwick wrote on Facebook.
Many apost.com readers agreed, noting that since Chita grew up in captivity, he's bound to get attached to humans.
"Taking away his human friend will likely only make him sad and depressed. I doubt it will make him part of his chimpanzee group. That ship has sailed because he was raised as a pet," Jodi Veach commented on Facebook.
However, Segers contends that limiting contact between Timmermans and Chita is best for the animal.
"He is an exception: he was raised with humans at home and came to the zoo almost 30 years ago. He is still fond of humans," Segers explained to People. "But for his own health, he has to be part of the chimpanzee group as much as possible."
What do you think about Adie Timmermans' "relationship" with Chita the chimpanzee? Have you ever heard of such a bond between a human and an animal before? If you found this interesting, pass it on so others can hear about it too.