African Chimp Finds New Home in Florida

March 14, 2013

At the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida, a chimpanzee named Clyde enjoys a game of chase with his caregivers, meets some other chimps, and ventures onto climbing frames and through aerial chutes.

He’s much better than when Patti Ragan, founding director of the Center, discovered him behind bars in a garage in Ohio where he had been kept for 40 years.

“He was emaciated, his muscles had atrophied so he could hardly walk or climb, his skin was almost white from lack of sunlight, and a lot of his hair had fallen out.”

Clyde’s owners bought him from a pet dealer in New York after he’d been shipped from his birthplace at an unknown location in Africa.

They named him, taught him table manners, dressed him in clothes, took him for motorcycle rides, and fished with him in a boat.

But as Clyde grew into a strong adolescent, he responded to his unnatural living conditions with frustration, aggression, and unpredictable behavior.

Clyde’s owners had moved him to a cage.

After moving to the Center for Great Apes in November, 2011, Clyde’s progress was slow. “When he first arrived everything frightened him,” says Ragan. “He wouldn’t leave his enclosure and screeched with fear when we opened the door.”

But before long Clyde began to gain weight and respond to the care and patience of the Center’s staff. His health improved, his skin darkened, his hair regrew.“

Clyde still lives alone rather than in a social group, but he is increasingly happy and confident. His lifestyle in Florida has brought him closer to home.