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 with no access to the outdoors, contributing to significant health issues, hair loss, and muscle atrophy. Their diet was also inadequate, and they rarely received fresh produce and foods containing the nutrients essential for a chimpanzee’s diet. Zulu was so malnourished as an infant, which caused her to fall victim to rickets—a developmental disease that affects the growth of bones and joints. This disease contributed to Zulu’s small stature and the abnormal development of her bones and joints. After focused rehabilitation efforts, Zulu has made a remarkable recovery. Despite still dealing with consequences of her condition like arthritis and stiff muscles, she still enjoys exploring the various areas of her enclosure and can be seen high up on perches with her chimpanzee friends. Zulu is currently on daily medication to help alleviate the symptoms of her arthritis, and we have observed increases in her mobility and energy level.

Zulu chimpanzee

Zulu’s favorite snack is a mix of leafy greens.

Zulu played an integral role in the introduction of the Dahlonega chimps and the LEMSIP chimps – seven youngsters (Cory, Rodney, Ike, Noelle, Martina, Jenny, and Pozna) who arrived at the PRC after their rescue from a research laboratory in 1996. The two groups of rescued chimpanzees were introduced in 2000, and Zulu immediately took on a motherly role, often taking Cory and Rodney into her nest as a mother would with her own offspring. Even to this day, she shares an undeniable bond with Cory and Rodney. They seek her reassurance and comfort when they are feeling insecure or upset. She also plays with these boys often—tickling their necks and squeezing their toes in between grooming and nap sessions.

Cory chimpanzee

Rodney chimpanzee

Cory and Rodney were born shortly after one another at the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP) in New York. Like most chimpanzees bred for research, Cory and Rodney were both separated from their own mothers at birth to be raised in a nursery setting by humans. This is extremely traumatic for young chimpanzees who naturally rely on their mothers for direct care and emotional support until well into their teenage years. Fortunately, Cory and Rodney, along with the other young chimpanzees rescued from LEMSIP, had sweet Zulu who stepped in as their mother. The two rescued groups bonded with each other to form a structured and dynamic troop, which is an integral part of life for chimpanzees.

As he has grown, Cory has formed strong bonds with all the older chimpanzees. He seems to naturally understand the politics of chimp life and uses these close bonds to his advantage and has the support of many of the high-ranking individuals in the troop. This allows rambunctious Cory to get away with things time to time—like stealing food from some of the younger female chimpanzees. His personality is loud, silly, and a little mischievous. You can be sure though, with Zulu nearby, he will always have someone to bail him out of trouble!

Cory (left) and Zulu (right) enjoy a pool full of water and fun enrichment.

Looks like Cory found a mouthful of peanuts!

Even though Rodney may be the least dominant of the males, he always knows how to use his playful demeanor to get other chimpanzees’ attention. He enjoys grabbing at fellow chimpanzees’ feet, making playful grunts, and loudly announcing when he has found a tasty treat! Rodney has big floppy ears to match his goofy personality. Rodney and Cory are close friends and are often observed playing case around their enclosure or napping together in one of their overhead tunnels.

Rodney (left) and Zulu (right) love to groom each other.

Rodney munching on tasty broccoli.

Rodney knows exactly how to have fun and cool off on a hot summer day!

Cory, Rodney, and Zulu are all available for adoption through our Primate Pals Program! You can click here for more information.