Monday, April 22, 2024

Rockhampton chimpanzee turns 50

Rockhampton Zoo has today celebrated the 50th birthday of its well-known and much adored chimpanzee, Cassius.

Zoo staff marked the milestone by decking out the chimpanzee enclosure with chimp friendly decorations and treating the entire troop to specially made jelly birthday cakes.

Parks, Sport and Public Spaces Councillor, Cherie Rutherford said the birthday boy was given first dibs on the birthday treats – a rarity for Cassius given that he is not the alpha male.

“The Zoo staff have done a fantastic job in preparing the enclosure and treating our beautiful Cassius today,” Cr Rutherford said.

“Alon is the alpha in the troop, so usually he inspects food or any new additions to the enclosure first, but today Cassius was able to have a little time on his own and enjoy the treats before the rest of the troop.”

Cassius, who was born in Coolangatta in 1971, has called the Rockhampton Zoo home for the past 35 years. He was brought to the local area with his brother Ockie in 1986. The brothers remained together until Ockie sadly passed away in 2013.

Today Cassius is a part of a seven member troop. Cr Rutherford said he is an integral part of the troop and zoo family.

“Zoo-goers have been falling in love with Cass since day one and much of this is because of his sweet and playful personality,” Cr Rutherford said.

“Some chimps can take a while to warm up to people they don’t know but Cass has the sort of personality where he warms up to you very quickly.”

Primate Keeper, Blair Chapman said Cassius holds the title of oldest male chimpanzee in Australasia.

“He is about a decade older than the second eldest male chimpanzee in this part of the world,” Blair said.

“As he grows older, we are noticing that Cass is starting to slow down a little. He isn’t as active as he used to be and most of the time he enjoys his day relaxing on the chimp platforms and spending some quality with the other members of the group.”

Blair said that there are some things however that don’t change with time.  

“He’s definitely a chimp that knows what he likes and doesn’t. For example he is very picky when it comes to his breakfast and always has been – he can get quite upset if he doesn’t get his banana and tea of a morning.

“Apart from that though, he’s a very calm and chilled male and has always been so.

“He’s the first chimp in the troop to come over and say hello whenever you walk past.

“Be sure to stop in and wish him a happy birthday if you’re in the area.”

Cassius, along with all animals of the Zoo, can be visited between 10am and 4pm each day. Entry to the Zoo is free.

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