Wolfgang Köhler Primate Research Center
04105 Leipzig, Germany
Goals of the Center
The Wolfgang Köhler Primate Research Center (Pongoland) is a project of the Max Planck
Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. It is operated in collaboration with
the Leipzig Zoo. Research focuses on the behavior and cognition of the four
species of great ape: chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), gorillas (Gorilla gorilla),
Organgutans (Pongo pygmaeus), and bonobos (Pan paniscus). There is a special
focus on the ontogeny of chimpanzee cognition. Researchers and students from
the University of Leipzig, and other universities around the world, conduct
their research projects at the center guided by the personnel of the Center.
The Center operates within the context of the Leipzig Zoo. Zoo visitors may thus observe the apes in both their outdoor and indoor areas, and even observe some scientific studies as they take place. In cooperation with the zoo, the Köhler Center supports efforts to conserve great apes, both in the wild and in captivity. The breeding program at the zoo is framed within the global strategy of the European Endangered Species Program (EEP), and some research focuses on the husbandry and care of great apes in captivity.
The Center and the Leipzig Zoo employ 14 zoo keepers who provide routine animal
care including feeding, cleaning, and enrichment. The zoo has a long tradition
of keeping great apes. Animals are fed three times a day, and browse is provided
on a regular basis. In addition, each season apes receive special foodstuffs
(e.g., chestnuts) that the keepers hide in certain areas of the enclosure to
promote natural foraging activities; other opportunities for special foraging
activities (e.g., at artificial termite mounds) are also made available on
a regular basis.