Research Chimps Find New Home in Chattanooga

female chimp from yerkes gets a new home at the Chattanooga Zoo
A female chimp from Yerkes gets a new home at the Chattanooga Zoo. Yerkes National Primate Research Center/Emory University

After years of working as research subjects, seven chimpanzees have a new home and a non-working life at the Chattanooga Zoo. The chimps were originally housed at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta.

Yerkes chimps have been involved in studies that include why yawning is contagious and how brains shrink as we age.

yerkes chimp at Chattanooga Zoo
Chattanooga Zoo

The donated chimps will go on view to the public this weekend. In preparation for this new group of chimpanzees, the zoo made adjustments to an existing chimpanzee exhibit that was already home to two chimpanzees.

“We are excited to see how dynamic the exhibit will be with the larger group of chimpanzees,” says Dardenelle Long, Chattanooga Zoo president and CEO. “With multiple viewing windows to indoor and outdoor exhibits, guests will be able to observe our new group from many different angles."

Yerkes chimpanzee at Chattanooga zoo
Chattanooga Zoo

This is the second chimp donation that the Yerkes research center has made.

Earlier this year, Yerkes announced it was donating eight chimpanzees to Wingham Wildlife Park in Kent, United Kingdom. The zoo is building a new £1 million 12,000-square-foot facility to house the chimps and has been collecting donations of blankets, toys and other items.

The new chimpanzee exhibit is scheduled to open this summer at the Kent park, which is home to 200 species and more than 650 animals, including big cats, reptiles and nonhuman primates. More than 220,000 guests visit the park each year, where work is well under way for the new chimpanzee exhibit scheduled to open this summer.

Yerkes chimpanzee at Chattanooga zoo
Chattanooga Zoo

The donations were organized in conjunction with the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan, a group that helps guide the management of the chimpanzee population.

"The Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan is pleased to have worked with the Yerkes National Primate Research Center to find a new home for these seven chimpanzees at Chattanooga Zoo,” says Stephen Ross, PhD, chair of the Chimpanzee SSP in an Emory University news release.

“This collaborative effort and the expertise at Yerkes and the zoo are key components to ensuring the long-term health and well-being of this group of chimpanzees."

Established in 1930, Yerkes is one of eight national primate research centers funded by the National Institutes of Health. The center is home to nearly 3,400 nonhuman primates and 12,000 rodents in its two metro Atlanta locations. According to the Yerkes website, "These animals are critical to the Center's research in the fields of microbiology and immunology, neurologic diseases, neuropharmacology, behavioral, cognitive and developmental neuroscience, and psychiatric disorders."