Thanks to calls for compassion from animal welfare advocates, officials at a zoo in India have been forced to cancel plans to separate two chimpanzees who've been companions for the past 20 years.
The lifelong friendship between Jayson and Nikita, the only chimps held in captivity at the Lucknow Zoo in Uttar Pradesh, was thrown into jeopardy last week when officials there announced that Nikita would be sent to another zoo to mate. But those plans have changed, potentially preventing an early death from the heartbreak of being apart.
"It has finally been decided that Nikita and Jayson will continue to live together in Lucknow zoo," zoo director Anupam Gupta told the Times of India.
Keeping the chimpanzees together, however, isn't just a nicety for Jayson and Nikita - it may actually save them. In a letter to India's Central Zoo Authority in regards to this case, Maneka Gandhi of People for Animals wrote:
"There is no conservation purpose nor welfare of animals that arises out of breaking an established pair of chimpanzees and attempting to pair them with other partners. In fact, such irresponsible experiments could seriously compromise their welfare, at times even proving fatal for the separated pair."