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Yerkes Donates Seven Chimpanzees to Chattanooga Zoo

June 23, 2015

Media Contacts

Lisa Newbern, 404-727-7709,

Today, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, announced it has donated seven chimpanzees to the Chattanooga Zoo. This is the center’s second confirmed donation of chimpanzees.  

The 14-acre Chattanooga Zoo, which was established in 1937, is home to more than 600 animals representing more than 100 species, including big cats, reptiles and nonhuman primates. Approximately 170,000 guests visit this Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA)–accredited zoo annually.

“We are pleased to announce this second donation of chimpanzees, which involved Yerkes, the Chattanooga Zoo and the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan,” says R. Paul Johnson, MD, director of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. The Chattanooga Zoo is one of 34 U.S. zoos that participates in the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan (SSP). “The interdisciplinary team of Yerkes employees that has been leading our donation efforts has been working with administrators and staff at the Chattanooga Zoo and the leaders of the Chimpanzee SSP since last year to coordinate the many details leading to today’s announcement. We look forward to visiting the chimpanzees at the Chattanooga Zoo given its close proximity to Atlanta,” Johnson continues.

In preparation for the arrival of the new chimpanzee group, Chattanooga Zoo staff made a few adjustments to its exhibit that opened in 2001. “We are excited to see how dynamic the exhibit will be with the larger group of chimpanzees,” says Dardenelle Long, Chattanooga Zoo president and CEO. “With multiple viewing windows to indoor and outdoor exhibits, guests will be able to observe our new group from many different angles," she continues.

Critical to this donation was the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan, which helps guide the management of the chimpanzee population.

"The Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan is pleased to have worked with the Yerkes National Primate Research Center to find a new home for these seven chimpanzees at Chattanooga Zoo,” says Stephen Ross, PhD, chair of the Chimpanzee SSP.  “This collaborative effort and the expertise at Yerkes and the zoo are key components to ensuring the long-term health and well-being of this group of chimpanzees."

Established in 1930, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center paved the way for what has become the National Institutes of Health-funded National Primate Research Center (NPRC) program. For more than eight decades, the Yerkes Research Center has been dedicated to conducting essential basic science and translational research to advance scientific understanding and to improve human health and well-being. Today, the Yerkes Research Center is one of only seven NPRCs. The center provides leadership, training and resources to foster scientific creativity, collaboration and discoveries, and research at the center is grounded in scientific integrity, expert knowledge, respect for colleagues, an open exchange of ideas and compassionate, quality animal care.
In the fields of microbiology and immunology, infectious diseases, pharmacology and drug discovery, transplantation, neurologic and psychiatric diseases, as well as behavioral, cognitive and developmental neuroscience, Yerkes scientists use innovative experimental models and cutting-edge technologies to explore and test transformative concepts aimed at: preventing and treating viral diseases such as AIDS; designing novel vaccines for infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis; enhancing the potential of organ transplantation and regenerative medicine; discovering new drugs and drug classes through high-throughput screening; defining the basic neurobiology and genetics of social behavior and developing new therapies for disorders such as autism and drug addiction; investigating how adverse social experience and consuming an unhealthy diet influence neurobehavioral and immune system development, and evaluating interventions to alleviate negative health outcomes; understanding the biology of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases; and advancing knowledge about the evolutionary links between biology and behavior.  

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The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include the Emory University School of Medicine, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and Rollins School of Public Health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. Emory Healthcare includes: The Emory Clinic, Emory-Children's Center, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Wesley Woods Center, and Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.5 billion budget, 17,600 employees, 2,500 full-time and 1,500 affiliated faculty, 4,700 students and trainees, and a $5.7 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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