A Chimpanzee Birthday Bash
By Brandon Allen
Koko the chimp celebrated her 40th birthday this month at the Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, England. The zookeepers set out piñatas and wrapped treats, like tomatoes and yogurt, for the beloved chimpanzee. These presents not only help Koko celebrate her birthday but also “keep her stimulated and encourage her to be inquisitive” according to Keeper Kathy Doherty. Koko, the oldest chimp and resident of Whipsnade, has reached a milestone age.
Koko can be seen at the zoo making funny faces at visitors or relaxing on her favorite log. She lives alongside Nicky, Phil, Grant, Bonny, and Elvis in the large “chimpnasium” where she sleeps, climbs, and plays.
Chimpanzees are complex social animals and naturally live in communities that are comprised of 15 or more individuals. Research estimates that the current chimpanzee population is only a tenth of what it was twenty years ago. There are less than 300,000 chimpanzees remaining because of greater human-chimp contact, the bushmeat market, and the steady degradation of the chimps’ natural habitat.