Ask a Keeper,
Published on April 27, 2022
Tulsa Zoo is home to two species of apes including six chimpanzees and two siamangs. In celebration of these amazing primates, learn more about each chimpanzee in our troop from zookeeper Mo O’Leary.
Susie has been at the Tulsa Zoo since 1973. She was the first chimpanzee to have offspring at Tulsa and has had more offspring than any other chimpanzee at the zoo. Of those five, sixteen grandchildren have been born across the country.
Turning 51 this year, Susie is most recognizable by her silver/grey hair. As a fiercely protective mother, she has quite the challenge juggling her two sons still at Tulsa Zoo, Morris and Bernsen. Now both adults, her two sons are testing each other’s status as alpha male. Staff has observed both males looking to Susie for support well into adulthood and she has been seen comforting both males.
Susie is a character and is always up for a drink from the hose or a mouthful of crystal light during training sessions. Staff has spent decades caring for Susie and her legacy at Tulsa Zoo is cherished by all.
Jodi has the reputation for stealing the hearts of staff and guests alike as she tends to pay attention to human behavior more than other chimps in the troop. Residing at the zoo since 1977, Jodi has maintained alpha female status for most of her life at the zoo. Currently, she is our highest-ranking female and has developed a bond with our newest chimp, Leia. As interactions become tense within the troop, many chimps look to Jodi for reassurance and approval.
At 48 years old, Jodi is no longer of breeding age. Her latest offspring, Enloe, was born in 2015 and is the latest chimpanzee to be born into the troop.
Morris, born to Susie in 1986 has been the residing alpha male of our troop for the past 21 years (2000-2021). His personality is slightly apprehensive; however, he shows his strength, confidence and silly nature often. Even well into adulthood he is still up for a game of wrestle with Enloe and enjoys relaxing with mother Susie. Morris is always eager to investigate enrichment devices that frequently incorporate his favorite foods.
Leia is our newest addition to the troop. Joining us in 2020, Leia previously lived at the Albuquerque BioPark Zoo. Her arrival marks nearly 40 years since an adult female has been assimilated into the troop. Currently 22 years old, she has never had offspring and is the only female of breeding age at the zoo. Her bonds with the troop have strengthened and It is hoped that she will breed with Bernsen or Enloe in the future.
Bernsen is the youngest son to Susie at age 15. He has recently become alpha male of our troop, deposing Morris of his long-held status. He is still working to solidify his status as the top-ranking male by displaying his strength and dominance to the troop. As alpha, he shows his dominance through vocalizations, body language and sometimes impressive leaps from high above to show his confidence and power.
Our youngest troop member, Enloe, is the son of Jodi and Bernsen. At age 7, he is testing boundaries with the adult chimps and keepers alike to see how much he can get away with. The adult chimps are no longer letting him get away with such antics like they did when he was younger. Enloe is an energetic character with a big personality. We are all looking forward to the role that he will play in the troop as he gets older.
Enloe was named in honor of a beloved volunteer Joe Enloe. Joe volunteered at the zoo for more than 20 years and spent much of her time here helping with the chimpanzee program through research and enrichment activities.