Photos: Meet Chattanooga’s chimpanzees

(Photo: Chattanooga Zoo)

Authored By Staff

Chattanooga is now home to a troop of seven chimpanzees, who came here by way of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University. The chimps’ donation is part of the species survival plan, which is dedicated to the preservation of species that are endangered. Chimps are one of many endangered species; some estimate that their native population has declined 90 percent in the past 20 years.

About 2,000 chimps live in captivity in the U.S., 250 or so of which are in accredited zoos. Chimps are social creatures who communicate and bond with one another, so they prefer to live in groups. The names, ages and fun facts about the seven new chimps making a home in Chattanooga are below, including photos.

A dominate female who thinks she is the “boss” of the troop, Amanda is also the youngest at age 24. She’s easy to recognize because of her young-looking, petite face, and also because she loves to be the center of attention. Amanda is a very social chimpanzee who doesn’t like to be alone and prefers to have company at all times. She’s also grabby and takes things away from the other chimps.

Artemus, also known as Arty, is a 24-year-old male who is a bit of a “problem child.” He’s stubborn and likes to throw feces. Arty is easily recognizable because of the spots on his face and his loose, droopy lips.

One of the oldest chimpanzees in the troop, Brandy is 30 years old and very shy. She tends to stay behind the other chimps and doesn’t call attention to herself. One especially sweet fact about Brandy is that she shares a special bond with Shirley, the other 30-year-old chimp in the group. She is very similar in appearance to Amanda, just a bit smaller, but can usually be identified because of her close proximity to Shirley.

Katrina, a 27-year-old female, is the most laid-back of the new chimps. She loves to groom her fellow chimps and is very sweet and calm. She is the smallest chimpanzee in the troop, and besides her size, you can also recognize her by the calming look on her face.

Ranette is the largest chimp in the troop at the age of 27. She’s a very smart chimp who makes elaborate nests to cuddle up in. Ranette also loves to go to bed early. You can pick her out not just by her size but because of the thinning hair on her body.

Scott, AKA Scottie, is the wild man of the bunch. He’s 28 years old and extremely energetic. Scottie loves to play, and he also loves to imitate his keepers, even making hooting sounds at them to get their attention. Scottie is the protector of the group and always alarms the others if he thinks something is out of the ordinary. Of all the chimps in the troop, Scottie is the blackest/darkest one, making him easy to spot.

Brandy’s best friend Shirley, who is also 30 years old, is the tallest chimp in the troop. She, like Amanda, is quite dominate, and she steals food from her troop mates. Shirley isn’t picky about what she eats. She’s been known to throw barrels when she’s grumpy about something. Other than her height, barrel throwing and close proximity to Brandy, you can recognize her by the bald spot on her very large head. 

Amy Solis was born and raised in Sacramento, California. Amy received her degree in wildlife biology from Colorado State University and has been working in the animal field for the past six years. She is one of the primary keepers for the chimpanzees and also the enrichment coordinator for the Chattanooga Zoo. She is very excited to begin building a close relationship with the new troop of chimpanzees. Amy enjoys dancing, going for walks with her daughter (AKA Charlie, her Jack Russell terrier), working out, scrapbooking and shopping.

Tawnya Williams is one of the primary keepers for the chimpanzees. She is also the training coordinator for the Animal Conditioning Program and helps with the animal handling training for the Chattanooga Zoo’s ambassador animals. She went to college at Colorado Mountain College for wildlife photography. She started her keeper career at a private zoo. Two private zoos and 14-plus years later, she is happy to say that she can never imagine her life without chimpanzees in it.

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