Mighty, Spunky, Resillient My Birthday
Captured in Africa in 1960 My Story
Marco is our oldest ape who arrived at the sanctuary in November 2005 after living alone for 30 years in a tiny backyard cage in South Carolina.
He was born in the wilds of Africa, and when his mother was shot and killed by poachers, Marco was taken to be sold and shipped to North America. He ended up with a circus family and performed in a small traveling circus in Oklahoma. When the circus trainers bought him, he had rickets (a nutritional deficiency of vitamin D). The rickets possibly affected his development and overall size because Marco is the smallest adult male chimpanzee most people have seen.
At 52 years old, Marco weighs only about 80 pounds (a full-grown, adult male weighs 145 to 180 pounds in captivity). He has a very square-shaped hip and rear end stance and a lot of grey hair on his back. Remarkably, when he walks, he has the appearance of a miniature silverback gorilla! But, Marco is 100% chimpanzee.
When his circus owners retired, they sold the other chimpanzees in their act, but kept Marco as a pet since he was the youngest and smallest. So, for the next 30 years, he lived alone at their home never seeing another chimpanzee. When he arrived at the Center for Great Apes, he was very nervous around the other chimps, but eventually was successfully introduced to Butch, another wild-caught older ex-circus chimpanzee.
Butch and Marco are now the best of friends and don’t like to be parted from each other. They spend their days grooming, resting, and in gentle games of chase. If Marco is at all frightened or overwhelmed by loud noises from the other chimp groups, he runs to Butch for reassurance.
Marco loves frozen juice balls (hard, plastic "Boomer" balls with one hole drilled inside so juice can be poured inside and frozen). Due to his past nutritional deficiency and small stature, Marco enjoys some extra items in his diet including peanut butter on wheat bread and supplement drinks, like Boost or Ensure. He is also learning to like a balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, but he still won’t eat some things like beets and rutabagas.