Rescued: 1998

Donald’s exact age is a mystery, since pet chimps were usually wild-caught in the 1960s and early ’70s, rather than bred in the United States. For all we know, he still has memories of his mother’s death and his subsequent kidnapping in an African forest, followed by the long and frightening trans-Atlantic shipment to a dealer in America.

Call it anthropomorphic, but those of us who know Donald use the term “gentleman” to describe him. For years, he was the only adult male (and by default the dominant male). Unlike some primate leaders, Donald has never been brutal; instead, he has exerted his authority by intervening during fights or by pairing with the most desirable females. Still, he becomes upset with unnecessary violence in his group and always accepts submissive gestures from his troop members to resolve the issues. He is always willing to work with his human caregivers, and seems to understand that we truly have his troop’s best interests in mind. For example, he readily moves from one area of the enclosure to the next for cleaning, and will chase the others out, as well.

One of Donald’s favorite pastimes is to stay outside during the early evening and into the night. Perhaps he feels better able to protect his troop while outdoors, or maybe he just likes the view of the moon and stars. Whatever the reason, the expanded outdoor enclosure has really benefited Donald.

As Donald ages, the younger male chimpanzees have begun to challenge him—either by starting fights with the girls or by brazenly hooting and stomping. Ike has become an especially challenging character for Donald; as he gets bigger and stronger, the disputes between him and other group members may cause unrest. It’s inevitable that Donald will eventually cede authority to one of the younger fellows, and we hope that his successor will also be a gentleman.

Reading into the Chimpanzee

A primatology book analysis and comparison to the PRC's chimps by Taylor Luken. Five to seven million years ago in Africa, humanity (Homo sapiens) and the African great ape known as the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) ceased sharing common ancestors. Our evolutionary...

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Reading into the Chimpanzee

Large and in Charge!

Chimpanzees are very social animals who live in large groups in the wild. They recognize and respect a hierarchy and each group usually consists of a dominant male, several high-ranking females, some younger subordinate males and females and juveniles. The PRC is...

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Large and in Charge!

Happy Birthday, Donald!

Our Alpha male, Donald, celebrated his 43rd birthday last week, and we threw him a pirate-themed birthday party! For each chimp's birthday, we pick a theme and throw them a big party to celebrate. They love walking into a room full of new and interesting...

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Happy Birthday, Donald!

Merry Chimpmas!

If you follow the Primate Rescue Center on social media, you probably know that every year around Christmas we like to put together a “Chimpmas list” for the chimps! This year the chimps thought long and hard about what they would like, and then...

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Merry Chimpmas!

Political Primates

Most species of primates who live in social groups follow dominance hierarchies. Hierarchies establish rank between members of a group. Higher-ranking members have better access to resources and more power within the group. The leader, or alpha, of a social group...

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Political Primates

Spring Fever

The chimps are kissing winter goodbye and embracing sun-filled days spent lounging, grooming and playing in their massive outdoor enclosure. What better way to ring in springtime festivities than by throwing the first outdoor chimp party of the season? Our...

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Spring Fever

The Dahlonega Five Chimps

We first learned about the five chimpanzees living in the hills of northwest Georgia in the summer of 1997. Kevin Ivester, a former board member of the Simian Society of America, explained that little was known about the animals because the owner kept to herself....

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The Dahlonega Five Chimps