, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 451-473

Establishment, maintenance, and behavior of free-ranging chimpanzees on Ossabaw Island, Georgia, U.S.A.

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A small number of adult chimpanzees were released on Ossabaw Island, Georgia, in order to evaluate the feasibility of establishing a free-ranging reproductive colony of chimpanzees in a semitropical North American climate. First, three females and one male were released in June 1972. Following the unexpected deaths of two of these females, four more females were added. Except for one newborn that was removed from the colony, the chimpanzee colony remained intact, and was still in existence as of February 1975. Preparation for and maintenance of the chimpanzees is described. Behavioral adaptations to the environment, and some aspects of chimpanzee social behavior are reported. The potential importance of colonies such as this, for reducing over-exploitation of naturally occurring primate populations is discussed.