chimp development

Our chimp family tree has grown and grown and their home is growing too as the redevelopment of 'Chimpanzee Lookout' continues! As well as changes to the enclosure, the area's name has also been changed to reflect the fantastic heights the outdoor area will create for our chimps!

During the development of Chimpanzee Lookout, viewing of our chimps will be resticted.

The redevelopment will improve animal welfare as well as enhance our visitor’s experience with some fantastic changes being made to the area.

The Build

The project will focus on the chimp’s current outdoor area making it much larger than its current size and a fantastic HIGH quality facility for our chimp family.

Work is now well underway on the project with the demolition of the old outdoor area completed, as well as the addition of tall towers, a heated cave and a new viewing area all currently being completed. 

A new roof was also one of the first bits of work to be completed making the inside area much brighter! Other changes to the inside area are now finished with a new entrance with a fantastic foyer area and impressive planting which has given the main building a much needed facelift! 

The project will be completed in early 2017 but we will keep you updated with its progress so you know when the chimps will be able to be viewed in their new outdoor enclosure!

Chimp development

Whilst the main focus of the project is the chimps outdoor area the build has already seen some see extensive improvements to other areas. This will includes updates to our chimps off show sleeping quarters, and the introduction of new toilet facilities for visitors in the near future. The building will also have sustainability in mind, with a biomass burner already fitted to power the building, rainwater collection facilities and a green wall which is has now been completed.

croc pool

As well as improvements to the home of our chimps the redevelopment has also seen a fantastic extension of our slender snouted crocodile’s enclosure which is now complete! Their new home is much more spacious and light, offering a larger pool, water fall, sandy land areas as well as a heated outdoor area and a new off show section! 

Watch this space as we update you with photos of this big, exciting redevelopment project! 

Our Chimps


We have 8 chimpanzees here at Colchester Zoo; 3 males and 5 females. Pippin is the adult male who was born at Twycross Zoo in March 1986 and has been here since January 1992.  Billy-Joe, an adult female; has been here since March 1983 and is mother to both Tara, born in October 1985, and Kora, who was born in November 1999.

Tara is the mother of Tekita. Tekita, is a female born here at Colchester in February 1996.  Tombe is male who was also born here in August 1996.  Our chocolate chimp is Tumba, who was born in 2004 to Tekita and Pippin, making Billy-Joe a proud great-grandmother!

Tekita gave birth once again on 14th March 2009 to a black chimp, (not a chocolate one like her older brother Tumba). The baby has been sexed as a female so keepers have decided to call her Talia.

Billy Joe

Billy Joe is the Great, Great Grandmother of our Chimpanzee family and has been at Colchester Zoo for more than three decades.  She arrived as a juvenile, but little is known of her formative years spent at a research facility somewhere in the UK. It is likely that such an upbringing has caused her some emotional and behavioural difficulties and has resulted in behaviours such as ‘rocking’ from time to time.  Although, this has not changed in her time with us as it was an established behaviour before we met her; it has not stopped her from being an integral member of our chimpanzee family!

Sadly as time catches up with her, we can see that life has taken its toll as indeed it does with all of us. She is now in her early forties which is coming towards the upper age range for chimpanzees and as such she has some of the ailments that associate with old age.  She has reduced flexibility, greying hair, inactivity and at times just wants to be on her own. She has also lost weight and whilst not a ‘beefy’ chimpanzee we are conscious that her current weight loss is unusual. We have taken account of her special dietary needs as an aged individual and have added in more readily digestible food types in addition to her normal diet but it has seemingly made no obvious difference to her physical appearance although it should improve her general nutrition.

Our team of vets and the keeping staff that care for our chimpanzees have been closely monitoring Billy Joe’s health and welfare and we have just recently carried out further veterinary examinations that included a clinical examination, X-rays and blood tests. Currently we are awaiting the full spectrum of results and medical interpretation, but our initial investigations are inconclusive. It is possible that Billy Joe might just be a thin geriatric chimpanzee and we have to understand that this is not necessarily contra to her health and welfare but I add a cautious note to say that we do not have all the facts available so this status may change. We do have an obligation of care to all of the animals that live in our zoo and rest assured that we are and will continue to do all we can for Billy Joe. Her well-being is paramount in our minds.


Give us a helping hand

With a donation of £50 you can help our charity, Action for the Wild support our projects currently taking place within the zoo and across the world, all working hard to help animal conservation. 

By making this donation we would like to highlight your dedication and support to all our visitors by displaying a chimp hand print within the revamped enclosure upon its completion. This will be on display for many years to come and if you wish, you can provide us with a special message of up to 50 characters to go on your hand print...

Make your donation today by clicking here and help conservation projects worldwide.

Message to adopters

If you are an adopter of one of our chimps and would like to see your adopted chimp please call into Guest Services on the day of your visit as it may be possible for a keeper to meet you and take you to the enclosure however please note that we cannot guarantee that this can be arranged depending on the current work which is taking place on the day of your visit.



Opening times: 

9.30am – 5.00pm or dusk if earlier*

*Last admission 4.00pm

upcoming events
March 2017
Sun mon tue wed thu fri sat
26 27 28 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31 1