In November 2008, the Oakland Zoo was honored to host the ChimpanZoo Conference, a sponsored program of the Jane Goodall Institute. Holding this event at Oakland Zoo is significant because twenty years ago, dedicated Oakland Zoo docents and education staff members joined Dr. Jane Goodall, keepers and scientists from nearly a dozen states in an endeavor to improve the lives of captive chimpanzees through research, education, and enrichment. The relationship created a bond that has lasted more than two decades.
Nearly fifty people, representing thirteen zoos and institutions from 3 countries, attended this year's conference, themed "The Evolution of ChimpanZoo." ChimpanZoo observers were trained on the newest version of the data collection system, and they discussed possible research topics to pursue in the coming year. There were several instructional and motivating presentations, workshops and panels.
Among the presenters was Dr. William Bryant, senior veterinarian at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, who spoke about chimpanzee health and medical education in zoos. Two new programs were also introduced. The ChimpanZoo Worldwide Mentorship Program will partner the Oakland Zoo with a zoo in the Netherlands, and the ChimpanZoo Junior Researchers Program kicked off with twenty-two of Oakland Zoo's Teen Wild Guides ready to learn about chimp behavior, conservation and research!
The conference concluded with an evening reception in the Snow Building, where Dr. Jane Goodall was honored. She acknowledged the service of the Oakland Zoo's long-time ChimpanZoo observers. Thank you to all who helped make the conference a huge success! If you are interested in learning more about ChimpanZoo, please contact Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (510) 632-9525, ext 122.
The Oakland Zoo is currently participating in a joint project with the San Francisco Zoo and Sonoma State University. The partnership is important because surprisingly little is known about the biology of California's only native aquatic turtle and in many parts of their range, turtles are becoming increasingly scarce. The pond turtles in Washington State and parts of Southern California are nearly extinct. Sonoma State has hatched pond turtle eggs as part of an incubation experiment, and asked Oakland Zoo to participate in a pilot program to raise the hatchlings, which will then be released back to the ponds where their eggs were collected. At this time, the Oakland Zoo has raised 22 tiny turtles. Thursday, April 2, 2009 was significant because Sonoma State sent a professor to the Oakland Zoo to help in their experiment to determine the turtles' gender. Understanding the reproductive biology of these animals is critical to their long-term survival in the wild. It was an exciting day behind the scenes at the Oakland Zoo!