Adie Timmermans is banned from coming in contact with a chimpanzee at the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium after developing a close bond with the primate over several years.
A Belgian zoo banned a local woman from visiting the park’s chimpanzee exhibit due to her “affair” with one of the primates.
A chimpanzee named Chita arrived at the Antwerp Zoo 30 years ago. Over the past four years, Adie Timmermans has visited the primate every week, developing a close bond with the animal.
“I love that animal, and he loves me. I haven’t got anything else. Why do they want to take that away,” Timmermans said, per Newsweek. “We’re having an affair, I’ll just say.”
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According to the outlet, the “affair” Timmermans mentioned involved the primate and woman waving and blowing kisses to each other from opposite sides of the glass surround the ape’s enclosure. The zoo recently expressed concern about the lengthy relationship, claiming it’s negatively impacting Chita’s rapport with the zoo’s other chimpanzees.
“When Chita is constantly busy with visitors, the other monkeys ignore him and don’t consider him part of the group, even though that is important. He then sits on his own outside of visiting hours,” the zoo said.
“An animal that is too focused on people is less respected by its peers. We want Chita to be a chimpanzee as much as possible,” the spokesperson for the facility added.
Antwerp Zoo noted that Chita’s fascination with humans is present because he was a pet before joining the facility. The zoo has now banned Timmermans from making contact with Chita to prioritize his well-being.
Timmermans accused the zoo of being unfair, saying, “other dozens of visitors are allowed to make contact. Then why not me?” Newsweek reported. Zookeepers are now working toward helping Chita learn to interact more with his fellow primates.