A MASSIVE campaign to rescue a bullied British chimp from a German zoo has failed despite thousands pleading for ‘Bili’ to be rescued.
The poor chimp was left with a bloodied stump after part of his ear was chomped off, and he was pictured cowering from his attackers in the Bonobo concrete bunker at Wuppertal Zoo.
Despite an “urgent” online petition signed by nearly 300,000 people calling for his return to Britain, bosses at Wuppertal Zoo maintain they are doing everything they can for Bili, and that his situation has improved.
According to animal welfare campaigners, the chimp has been severely traumatised since being sent to Wuppertal in autumn last year.
Shocking footage of the British-born bonobo being attacked by a group of aggressive apes has been making headlines around the world.
After being shared on YouTube, the petition was set up by animal lover Petra Bente in a bid to save Bili from being “bitten to death or euthanised”.
The BBC reports that the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary, in Powys, has offered to adopt the animal.
Sanctuary representative Graham Garen travelled to Germany to make the offer in person.
But in a statement, the zoo rejected the gesture, saying that “resettlement is not an option”.
Zoo boss Volker Homes said Wuppertal’s zoologists and zookeepers “are doing everything possible” to “end the aggression” being shown towards Bili.
He added: “Of course, we understand that zoo visitors are scared of Bili’s wounds and worried about his health.
“However, his situation in a new home would not improve but could even worsen.”
The statement added: “This is especially true for the Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary, which is often talked about by animal lovers.
“After a weekend-long conversation between a representative of the Welsh rescue centre and experts at Wuppertal, it is clear to the [zoo] that due to a lack of expertise, the institution in Wales can by no means be a solution.”
We understand that zoo visitors are scared of Bili’s wounds and worried about his health.
Volker Homes, spokesman for Wuppertal Zoo
Sending Bili to Frankfurt was also taken off the table as the arrival of two new female bonobos in that troop would highly complicate Bili’s reintegration there.
The zoo said it had brought in an expert from the Jane Goodall Institute Germany to observe Bili in the enclosure on Monday.
They “confirmed to the zoologist in Wuppertal that relocating Bili to a facility where he would have to live alone would be a no-go.
“From a zoological point of view, they can not recommend a re-conversion of the bonobo into yet another group.”
In a further update posted to the zoo’s Facebook page today, it said there had been “positive developments” among the chimps.
It said that aggressive behaviour against him “has gone down” and that Bili has been “in the presence of the dominant female” and he seemed “more relaxed” as she was making “positive contact” including grooming.
CALMER ANIMALS WITH BILI
The zoo said it “hopes this gratifying development will continue, even though Bili’s integration may of course also lead to setbacks.”
Homes added: “Due to the temporary division of the monkey group into smaller units, there are now significantly calmer animals with Bili, who has noticeably relaxed.”
According to German media, the violence against Bili has not only drawn the ire of animal welfare groups, but also shocked zoo visitors who witnessed the ape being attacked.
In one video, Bili is seen sitting on a raised platform in the enclosure of the pygmy chimpanzees as some other bonobos try to push him off.
When another bonobo violently pulls Bili’s arm, he falls down with the troop of bonobos then jumping on him, and beating him up.
Bili tries to escape into a corner and protect his body from the blows by making himself as small as possible with his arms around his face.
A concerned zoo visitor can be heard shouting “nein, nein” (German for “no, no”).
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A spokesman for Jane Goodall said “footage of the attack on the young bonobo male are heartbreaking.
“Bonobos can show repeatedly aggressive behaviour towards new males integrated in a group, biting hands, feet, ears and the anal area.
“Although this behaviour is seen frequently in both captive and wild bonobos, the attacks on Bili are extremely violent.”
The organisation said that a possible explanation for the bullying was that Bili was not nursed by his mother, but was hand-raised.
He was born in 2008 in Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire, and flown to Frankfurt in 2009 where he was adopted by two loving female chimps.