Last month, in honor of Mother’s Day, we introduced you to the best nonhuman primate mothers we know. Now, let’s hear it for the boys: the alpha males, the dads, the males who spent years in biomedical research laboratories, the entertainment industry, and the pet trade before arriving in North American primate sanctuaries.
Despite their captive backgrounds, these patriarchs are finally able to enjoy their status as pillars of their families and communities. Happy Father’s Day to Topo, Julius, Ripley, Christopher, and Clarence!
Topo, now in his late 40s, was the first chimpanzee to find a home at Chimps Inc. in Bend, Ore., after living in solitary confinement in a small, dirty, windowless cage at a dark and dingy trailer park in upstate New York. This alpha male often takes on the role of father and grandfather to the other chimps in his family. Despite Topo’s rough beginning, he is extremely patient and gentle, often sharing his food with the others in his group, and the other chimps respect his dominance, looking to him for reassurance and direction in times of excitement or stress.
He has a youthful and joyous spirit, enjoys wrestling matches with his friend Thiele, games of chase with Jackson and CJ, giggling with one of his human friends, grooming with Patti in a sunny corner, or enjoying the view from his tower, where he watches over his domain and his family. Topo is admired and honored every day at Chimps Inc. for his importance as father and grandfather to the community.
Julius was one of the first chimpanzees released by the New Iberia Research Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and came to Chimp Haven in Keithville, La., in 2013. Based on his medical history, he was used in several studies, and fathered 29 chimp children in captivity. Many of his kids now live at Chimp Haven, including Dino, Chicken, Tosha, Danielle, Mackenzie, and Kim.
Julius is one of the sanctuary’s oldest residents, and has adjusted to his social group well. He recently attained the alpha male role after the death of his predecessor. Many of Chimp Haven’s community were infected with HIV and Hepatitis while in laboratories, and Chimp Haven is currently the only facility in the U.S. able to provide care for chimpanzees with infectious diseases.
Center for Great Apes
Ripley, now 24, was once a performer for films and television including Ace Ventura, Junior, and television’s Jerry Seinfeld Show. He and his companion Jessie became parents at a young age when they lived at their Hollywood trainer’s compound. However, he was sent to a roadside zoo in Nebraska before the baby even arrived. At the zoo, Ripley’s story turned tragic when he and three other former entertainment and pet chimpanzees attempted to escape. The three others were shot and killed. Ripley ran back into his cage, closed himself inside, and survived. He was immediately sent to a private breeder in Missouri, then another, but no known offspring resulted.
Four years later, in 2009, he was finally retired to the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Fla., where he was reunited with many of his original companions and siblings from Hollywood including his sisters Maggie and Bella, his brother Mowgli, and his old friends Sam, Bubbles, and Boma. He also rejoined his first love Jessie, and finally got to meet their daughter Kodua as well as Jessie’s younger son Stryker.
Center for Great Apes
Christopher, now 21 and a big 320 pounds, is the strong, silent type. As an infant, he lived at a Florida tourist attraction with another male, Pongo, and now as adults, they still enjoy each other’s company at the Center for Great Apes, even though adult male orangutans typically are solitary and territorial and will not tolerate each other.
Like many retired men, Christopher likes to putter and tinker. He enjoys building nests of branches, hay, palm fronds, paper bags, and cardboard boxes in his 40-foot high tower. He makes tools, and has altered many toys and tree branches in order to reach food and objects outside of his outdoor habitat. He tries to take apart every toy or puzzle given to him, and has frequently broken his water spigot by jamming it with PVC tubes. He shares his life with his sweetheart Pebbles, who came from the entertainment industry.
Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch
Clarence and his friends are playful, active, and quick moving, constantly running up and down, climbing and crisscrossing every inch of their habitat. Clarence enjoys rope ladders, perches, and ledges, and crates up high in their enclosure. Clarence takes excellent care of his family, and they spend time each day grooming each other.
To all the dads out there, we hope you enjoyed these stories and wish you a lovely Father’s Day!