Communicating with chimps

It’s a sign of a close bond that keepers can communicate with our chimps and understand their needs through hand signals.

Keepers working with our seven female chimpanzees regularly use chimp sign language, comprising seven simple commands, which enables staff to easily perform health checks and give any necessary treatment.

The Lower Primates team, made up of Senior Keepers Jodie Dryden, Stacey Evans, Jade Reddall and Keepers Harley Hunt and Stephanie Ballard, have developed the signals passed on from London Zoo where the chimps came from 20 years ago.

Jodie said: “The whole team uses the commands routinely to give our chimps the once over and check for any injuries or problems.

“We can get them to show their chest to use a stethoscope or their ears to take their temperatures with an ear thermometer and they always get treats in return.”

Jodie said the sign language proved invaluable when 41-year-old Mandy was injured one time and they were able to communicate with her and give her an injection in her shoulder without any stress involved.

The commands include getting the chimps to show the keepers their bum, back, mouth, shoulders, ears, feet and chest – shown in our chimp sign language illustration by DZG’s Graphic Designer Rachel Lane.

The poster will be put on display near the chimp enclosure for visitors to learn more about how we look after our seven females.

Great work girls!