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Oklahoma City Zoo doesn't advocate human-ape contact

Oklahoma City Zoo officials warn the public not to have primates as pets. Their hand-feeding of a struggling chimp baby is an exception to their normal, hands-off approach to animals.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Staff Writer Published: August 22, 2011

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Zoo doesn't promote human-ape contact

Oklahoma City Zoo officials have now hand-raised two chimpanzees in the past few years, but they said this week that human-primate contact should always be limited.

Zookeepers have had to raise the chimps because one's mother died during child birth and the other's mother couldn't produce enough healthy milk, zoo veterinarian Dr. Jennifer D'Agostino said.

These are unusual circumstances, D'Agostino said. Zookeepers spent many days holding Siri because that's what chimp mothers do in the wild, D'Agostino said.

“We don't advocate any primates as pets,” she said. “Normally we take a very hands-off approach with their care.”

Ape supervisor Jennifer Davis said both chimps were returned to their troops as soon as possible.

“We want the best for them,” Davis said. “And the best for them is to be with their own kind — not people.”