A local woman has been banned from visiting a male chimp at the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium after officials claimed that their unusual bond prevented him from bonding with other primates.
Adie Timmermans had reportedly been visiting the chimp, named Chita, a 38-year-old male chimpanzee, on a weekly basis for four years in what she described as a real “relationship.”
“I love that animal, and he loves me. I haven’t got anything else. Why do they want to take that away,” Timmermans said, per Newsweek. “We’re having an affair, I’ll just say.”
During their visits, Timmermans interactions with the chimp reportedly consisted of blowing kisses and waving to each other through the glass of the ape’s enclosure.
Timmermans believes Chita feels the same way about her as she does about him.
Officials at the zoo stepped in claiming that Timmermans and Chita’s relationship was proving to be detrimental to the primate’s social development, preventing him from bonding with other apes.
“When Chita is constantly surrounded by visitors, the other animals ignore him and don’t consider him part of the group,” said zoo curator Sarah Lafaut to ATV.
“An animal that is too focused on people is less respected by its peers. We want Chita to be a chimpanzee as much as possible.”
However, Antwerp Zoo officials don’t think that Chita will ever be able to re-integrate into chimp society as his exposure to humans began at an early age since he was a pet before joining the facility.
LadBible reports that the chimp was donated to the wildlife facility at an age when he became unmanageable and has spent 30 of the last 38 years in captivity.
Timmermans remains devastated over being evicted from the zoo. She accuses the zoo of being unfair because other visitors can still interact with the ape.