The Buckshire 12 join Primarily Primates
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1996:
SAN ANTONIO, Texas–– “We’re surprised
how well all of them adjusted to living in a
group situation,” says Primarily Primates corporate
secretary Stephen Rene Tello of the Buckshire 12.
The 12 chimpanzees, retired from research by the
Buckshire Corporation, arrived at Primarily Primates
on March 31.
“Before the move,” Tello explains,
“Buckshire began introducing them to each other in
pairs and then in groups,” which eased the transition.
The easy adaptation of the chimps to each
other was offset by some awkwardness about their new
facilities, which were designed taking into account the
behavior of the chimp colony already at Primarily
Primates––20 chimps, in four separate social groups,
who were rescued from a variety of abusive situations.
“We were also surprised at how little they
climbed,” recounts Tello. “The chimps were not anxious
to explore the high perches and lookout sites. The
few who did climbed very slowly. Their whole bodies
would shake and quiver as they pulled themselves up
along the perches and wire. It was as if the act of
climbing freely was foreign to them. Most tend to
spend all of their time on the floor.”
The chimps suffered tender feet and sunburn
during their first days at Primarily Primates, having
spent years inside on barred floors instead of outside
on a solid surface.
“They have shaded areas in the main enclosure,
plus indoor bedrooms, but they purposely
lounge in the direct sunlight,” Tello said. “Coaxing
them indoors doesn’t work. As long as the weather is
nice, they want to stay outside and watch the goings
on around them.”
The best known of the Buckshire 12 is
Oliver, about age 35, whose upright stance and
unique facial structure were exploited for years on the
sideshow circuit before Buckshire acquired him.
“Despite all the ‘baby bigfoot’ and ‘missing
link’ articles, to us Oliver is just an unusual-looking
chimpanzee,” Tello said. However, Tello acknowledged,
“Oliver does look and act very differently from
the other chimpanzees.”
Buckshire initially offered Primarily
Primates eight middleaged nonbreeding chimps; when
Primarily Primates raised more than enough funds to
construct caging and move that group, Buckshire
offered to retire four breeding females, as well––and
did, on schedule, though Primarily Primates is still
trying to raise the last $14,500 of the project price tag.
“We’re hoping what is learned from this
retirement campaign will presuade researchers to offer
retirement to other chimps,” says Swett.
Primarily Primates houses about 400 animals
in all: 350 primates, a jaguar, a wallaby, a couple of
dogs, and a considerable number of birds.