On Thursday, Dec. 22 at 10:30 a.m., Lion Country Safari will celebrate its annual Christmas with the Chimps.
The oldest living chimp in the world, named Little Mama, is always a charismatic fan favorite at this event. Dr. Jane Goodall estimates her age to be around 78 years old.
For 32 years now, Santa Claus has taken a hiatus from the North Pole to deliver presents to a very special group of chimps. Once Santa’s boat/sleigh is loaded with wrapped presents — including edible treats, stuffed animals, clothes and enrichment-themed activities — he will make his delivery to the 18 chimpanzees. Many enthusiasts wait all year for this opportunity to witness chimpanzees from a closer vantage point. Guests are permitted out of their vehicles on an observation island directly across from the eagerly awaiting chimps.
“The chimps are very much looking forward to celebrating the holiday season this year. They’ve noticed us gathering supplies and goodies in the past few weeks and have reacted with great excitement — through displays, pant hoots and happy food chirps,” Primate Curator Tina Cloutier Barbour said. “They’re remarkably intelligent, so they definitely recognize that it’s almost that time of the year where they get to show off for our guests and greet Santa. They’re also much attuned to our emotions and excitement, which means that they really feel the holiday spirit in a way that most other animals do not. This is definitely a very special time for all of us.”
The presents are provided and wrapped by ChimpanZoo volunteers and staff at Lion Country Safari. ChimpanZoo is a program developed by renowned chimpanzee expert Goodall for the research, enrichment and education of chimpanzees.
There is no pre-registration, and attendance to the event is included with paid admission. Guests should arrive by 9:30 a.m. to allow travel time to the chimp islands, located in the final section of the drive-through preserve.
Lion Country Safari is the only drive-through safari in South Florida. Guests can see more than 1,000 animals on 320 acres. The park is home to the largest herd of rhinos and zebras in the country. For more information, call the main office at (561) 793-1084 or visit www.lioncountrysafari.com.