OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden announced the addition of Kirsty, a 14-year-old female chimpanzee, to the Zoo's 1,500-strong animal collection.

Kirsty arrived at the Zoo at the end of May, 2015, after a brief stay at the Tulsa Zoo to complete a 30-day quarantine, a standard practice when accepting a new animal for any zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The OKC Zoo's construction of its new animal hospital prevented Kirsty from being quarantined in that facility.

According to Zoo officials, Kirsty was raised as a pet for the first six years of her life. Then, her owners boarded her for several years at the breeding facility where she was born--after realizing that her strength and destructiveness, inherent in chimps, was becoming unmanageable. Kirsty's owners wanted more for her so they reached out to Dr. Steve Ross, chairperson of the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan (SSP), which manages the chimpanzee population living in AZA-accredited organizations across the nation, to see if there were placement opportunities for Kirsty. 

Dr. Ross recommended the OKC Zoo, which is home to a troop of seven chimpanzees of varying ages and known for being a very accepting family of unrelated chimps, having integrated two unrelated young chimps previously.

Once her quarantine ended at the Tulsa Zoo, the OKC Zoo's animal team was eager to welcome Kirsty and began introductions to the Zoo's chimps. The team is very experienced with chimp introductions, a methodical process that advances based on the chimp's behavior. Kirsty had already spent time with other chimps so she was successful in meeting the chimps properly.

Kirsty has been introduced to the entire troop and can be seen in the chimp habitat of Great EscApe.

“Kirsty is enjoying interacting with the other adult chimps, including Cindy, Kito, Qadeer and Mwami.  Youngsters Zoe, Siri and, especially, Ruben have enjoyed playing with their new troop member,” said Laura Bottaro, OKC Zoo animal curator. "We are thrilled the Zoo could assist in giving Kirsty a more suitable environment and a chimp family that she can grow with."