Zulu is a former pet who came to the PRC from Georgia, along with Donald, Hazel, Victoria, and Debbie, who has since passed away. Known here as the “Dahlonega 5,” these chimpanzees were confined to a filthy concrete bunker once they were no longer safely able to live as “pets” in their owner’s home.
For more than a decade, these chimps had to make room for themselves by pushing newspaper bedding—along with years of their own waste—into piles that sometimes reached four feet high. They had no access to the outdoors, and lost both hair and muscle tone in these miserable conditions. Their food was inadequate and unhealthy, consisting mostly of highly processed, sugary carbohydrates. They rarely received fresh produce or foods rich in protein, essential aspects of a chimpanzee’s diet.
Zulu nevertheless retained an affinity for humans; she often sticks her lips through the bars of her enclosure, like a kiss, as a friendly gesture towards her caretakers. Along with her buddy Hazel, Zulu played an integral role in the introductions between the Dahlonega chimps and the seven youngsters from LEMSIP, a research laboratory affiliated with New York University that closed in the mid-1990s. She immediately took on a motherly role, bringing newcomers Rodney and Cory into her nest, as would a mother with her own offspring. And she continued to defend these juveniles during altercations—both would often run to her embrace at the first sign of stress among the group.
Zulu is still a matriarchal figure of sorts, often to her own detriment. Although the boys like to pester all the females, they know they can get away with picking on Zulu without her reprimanding them too much. She still holds a high position in the social hierarchy, especially since she has maintained close relationships with the young males. When our dominant male, Donald, is ready to relinquish his alpha role, we’re certain that Zulu will be instrumental in helping the next troop leader assume control.
Zulu has flourished at the PRC, but she still bears physical scars from her earlier days. Malnourished as an infant, and possibly a victim of rickets, her physical stature is small, her four limbs short and bowed. This doesn’t slow her down, however: she sprints to the breakfast feast in the playroom each morning, and races alongside Donald when someone needs disciplining.
The Primate Rescue Center receives no direct funding from the government. We rely on donations from passionate individuals to support the apes and monkeys in our care! Like many non-profits, we make the majority of our yearly budget in the last 6 weeks of the...Read More
We are so pleased to now be partnering with our local Whole Foods store located in the Summit at Fritz Farm. We go through a lot of food each week to feed the 9 chimpanzees and over 40 monkeys at the PRC and we are fortunate that a large percentage of their diet is...Read More
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...Read More
Zulu Chimpanzee is a former pet from Georgia who arrived at the PRC in 1998 as part of the Dahlonega Five. In this former pet situation, Zulu, along with Donald, Hazel, Victoria, and Debbie, was confined to a small, windowless concrete bunker for more than a decade...Read More
When we think of Mother’s Day, it’s usually a day to spend time with mothers and show them our appreciation and love. But not everyone is that lucky. Human, ape, and monkey alike, some of us aren’t able to be with our mother on this special day. Most primates...Read More