Special thanks to Kimi Lau-Costanzo for providing much of the story found on this page,
and the sources, as well as many of the photos.

 

INTRODUCTION
His early life unfolded like a story co-authored by Dickens and Darwin.  As an infant, he was taken from his mother and sold out of an orange crate for $25 and a thumbprint. He was carried across an ocean, installed inside a cage, and taught to depend on the imperfect love of strangers. Although he was afforded the privileges conferred by rank, he never chose a mate. He had no interest in females of his own kind; instead, he preferred blondes in tank tops. Altogether he lived at Lowry Park Zoo for 35 years, lasting longer there than any other creature and longer than any of the employees. Each of the 1,800 animals at the zoo is assigned a number. His was 00001.

 

EARLY LIFE

Born in 1966 in Liberia, West Africa, he was only an infant when a poacher in the West African bush took him from his parents, killing his mother for meat.  He almost certainly saw her die trying to protect him. In December of the same year, an American named Ed Schultz, working for an iron-ore mining company in the west African port of Buchanan, heard that someone at the mess hall was selling baby chimps.


Ed & Herman, late 1960s St. Pete Times Photo "Zoo Story - Code 1"

 

He found the man waiting with an open orange crate. Inside were two chimps, each only a few weeks old. They looked up at Schultz and reached up with both arms. "You're my Herman," said Schultz, scooping up one of the chimps. He didn't know where the name came from. It just seemed right. Schultz paid $25 in cash, got a receipt marked with a thumbprint -- the seller didn't know how to write -- then took Herman home to meet his wife Elizabeth and children Roger and Sandy.
 

See recent photos of Buchanan, Liberia, at + Encyclopedia where photos below are from.
 

Grand Bassa County Police Station, Buchanan
Buchanan is the capital of Grand Bassa Co.

Spark's Hotel, Buchanan, Liberia

 

At first the Schultzes fed Herman from a baby doll bottle, put him in diapers, and then taught him to eat his fruit and drink from a cup at the dinner table. The family adored and pampered him, not having any idea all the ways their love would change him.

 

A few months later, they started caring for another young chimp, a female named Gitta.   Before she came to the Schultz home, Gitta had been confined almost exclusively to a small cage and was extremely shy and unsure of herself around humans.  When she saw Herman, she clung to him and rocked nervously back and forth.  Herman tolerated her neediness; even then, he seemed more patient then other chimps.

As the Schultz children grew, their parents would mark their changing height on the wall. As Herman and Gitta grew, height marks were made for them, too. "He was probably as close to a human as a chimp could be," Roger Schultz, Ed's son, said of Herman. "I don't think he really believed he was a chimp." Naturally affectionate and overflowing with personality, Herman featured more prominently in the Schultzes' daily lives.

 

 

 

ATTRACTION TO BLONDES

LAMCO, the iron-ore company where Ed worked in Liberia, employed people from around the world, including an abundance from Sweden. At parties and company picnics, Herman -- young, impressionable and decidedly male -- was constantly being swept up in the arms of Swedish women. Ed's wife, Elizabeth, was a blonde, as well as the Dutch girls who came to their home.  Herman grew up surrounded by fair-haired women who showered him with attention. It is no wonder that Herman had a weakness for blondes.

 

The Schultz family hoped Herman would eventually mate with Gitta, but it never happened.   Though he was friendly to Gitta and other female chimps, his libido had already been turned from his own kind.  Believing they had saved Herman, they embraced him into their lives without realizing what that embrace would mean.

 

COMING TO AMERICA

A year or so later, Ed found a job in the U.S. and the Schultzes headed back to the states.  They settled in Ohio, and Ed arranged to have Herman and Gitta join them there.  On their first Christmas,  they dressed Herman in a knitted cap and booties and carried him outside to play in the snow drifting across their lawn.

 

 

St. Pete Times, FLORIDIAN Section E. Dec. 6, 2007 - Zoo Story - Life. Death. The Paradox of Freedom,
Ch. 3 - Imperfect Love

 

 

TAMPA AND LOWRY PARK ZOO

 

Soon, Ed took a job as a manager at a phosphate company in Tampa. Ed and his family, including Herman and Gitta, moved here.  The chimps were then 5 years old and on the verge of chimp adolescence. They were getting larger and stronger, and more difficult to control--to the point where Ed's wife and daughter were no longer comfortable taking them into the house on their own.  "A chimp at 8 years old can take your finger right off with his teeth," Schultz said. 

 

So in 1971, after looking for a new home for Herman and Gitta, Ed decided to donate them to Lowry Park Zoo, which at the time was run by the city of Tampa.  In exchange, the family made two requests: that Herman and Gitta be allowed to live out the rest of their lives at the zoo, without being sold or transferred to another facility and possibly end up in some research lab. The second request was that in the off-chance Herman and Gitta were ever to mate, the Schultzes were to be given custody of the offspring.  In those days, Lowry Park had a reputation as a stark and sometimes even grim place, and they wanted to make sure their offspring would be well cared for, having no confidence that the zoo was up to the task.  Still, to Ed, Lowry Park seemed like the best choice for his chimps. The zoo was ready to give Herman and Gitta a cage of their own, larger than the one they were kept in with the Schultzes. They had also agreed to let Ed and his family visit and hold them if they still felt safe enough to get close.

 

On the day of the big move, the Schultz family drove the chimps to downtown Tampa for a ceremonial visit at City Hall.

A Tampa Tribune photographer took pictures of Mayor Dick Greco hamming it up with the chimps. One shot showed them seated beside Greco, pondering the city budget.  The staged frivolity didn't take away the bittersweet emotions of the day, but the Schultzes were pleased to see Herman reveling in the spotlight.  That day, as he posed for the news crew, he was being trained to perform for a larger audience.  For better or worse, he was about to become a star.

 

As they escorted Herman to his new home, on the way in to the zoo, Herman climbed a light pole. After a childhood in the trees, it was the last time he would have a chance to climb anything that tall.

 

The Schultz family climbed into his cage with him to say goodbye. Then, with he children crying and their parents heartbroken, the cage door was locked shut and Herman began his third life.

 


TBT Photo, 1972

Herman stayed in the old zoo for the next 16 years. It was awful. Tens of thousands of people filed past, often too close for the animals’ safety. News clips from over the decades tell a harrowing story: Razor blades tossed into dilapidated cages, arrows shot into the compounds. The place was deadly. Sea lions collapsed from copper poisoning after eating pennies that had been tossed into their tank. A tiger died after someone gave it amphetamines and barbiturates.

 

First he had clung to his mother in the forest, then he had been adopted by his human family. Now he was on display for a never-ending parade of new faces. Mostly, though, Herman was known for his relatively benign temperament. When Jane Goodall visited in 1987, she fell for him instantly, praising his glossy coat, pleasant personality and the "lovely open expression on his face."

 

Inside his cage, Herman learned to perform, to clap and blow kisses and smoke cigarettes. Whatever it took to win over the strangers who came to see him.

 

About the above photo, described by former Lowry Park Zoo director Doug Porter: That long-ago article also featured another individual, a youngster named Herman. He was just a little guy – about six years old – and he did not deserve to be behind bars. A photo of him in the article evokes a sense of despair even though he appears relaxed with one foot propped up on the bars as he picks intently at a piece of fruit. He had only been in those cramped, dank quarters for about a year, but the real tragedy was that he would live there for another twelve years before our paths would cross again and I would be privileged take over that zoo and to do something about his condition. Herman was a Chimpanzee who lived across town in what the article described as the “dilapidated, prison-like cages” at the other zoo in town. His discomfort was uncomfortably evident.

Twelve years after the newspaper article that linked us, Herman and I would cross paths again when a master plan called for a new zoo, and I was hired to guide the process. For nearly three years, workers poured concrete, sculpted artificial rocks, and installed caging until we were planting grass, testing waterfalls, and moving animals into their new homes. The new chimpanzee area was not especially large, but it was an interesting and varied space for animals who had only known concrete and chain-link. A long, grassy yard was broken up by large logs and an artificial, concrete termite mound. A deep dry-moat barrier afforded the chimps an unobstructed view of their human visitors and the landscape beyond. One of the highlights of my zoo career was seeing Herman walk on grass for the first time and climb atop his favorite perch on the termite mound to gaze back at me. I am not suggesting that he was actually “happy” but I do know that I did everything in my power to make him so.

Photo from Doug Porter's "This Place is a Zoo" Ch. 5

 

 

 

Herman saw many changes. He lost his closest companion when Gitta died of a viral infection in the late 1980s. By then, the zoo was reinventing itself. Somehow, he survived long enough to see the old Lowry Park torn down and the rebuilding of the Zoo to create more natural exhibits. His home inside the new zoo — the exhibit with the artificial rocks and waterfall — was hardly a substitute for the life he might have led in Africa. But it was a considerable improvement over the cage, allowing enough room not just for Herman but for a small group of other chimps.

If one of the other chimps in his group was upset, he offered comfort. If a dispute erupted, he stepped in. Often, though he held himself apart from the others and stayed on his stony perch. His early years with a human family had left him in profound confusion, and his years of isolation in the cage had increased this confusion and imbued him with an unceasing need for human attention.

Waves of primate keepers worked with Herman since the new zoo opened in 1988, and as they have all come and gone, the king stayed. He was the zoo’s most famous resident for over 3 decades; many of the keepers with him at the time weren’t even born when he arrived at Lowry Park.  Herman’s gentle disposition made him a favorite among both Zoo guests and animal care staff alike.

 

Zoo Story – Home is Where the Boat Is.net - Sept. 2010

Even though his alpha status in the group gave him sexual privileges, he never tried to breed with the three female chimps available to him. Instead he was attracted only to human females, preferably athletic blondes. At times, Herman seemed uncannily human, understanding things that eluded the other chimps. His unusual relationship with Dr. Murphy was a good example. Like many of the animals at Lowry Park, most of the chimps disliked the veterinarian. One day, Murphy appeared in the chimp night house with a tranquilizer gun so he could attend Herman, Murphy was a good shot and almost never missed. But this time, his aim was off. The other chimps would have run and hid. Herman just picked up the dart, walked over to the mesh, and handed it back to Murphy so he could try again.

 

 

 

 


 

From Zoo Story - The New World - St. Pete Times
Herman amuses fans and throws handfuls of dirt at them in May 1991 at the Lowry Park Zoo.

Herman, 1991, TBT photo

 


Herman survived by using his skills as an entertainer.  He learned to flirt and blow kisses, to clap and dance and turn somersaults; anything to delight the crowds.  When people tossed him lit cigarettes, he would smoke for them.  Other chimps, when bored or upset, will throw their droppings.  Herman was fastidious about his bodily functions after growing up in diapers--he would not touch his waste.  Instead, Herman would throw dirt.  Even Mayor Greco was not immune to being a target.  In 1972, a year after Herman arrived at Lowry Park, the zoo's appalling conditions had drawn the attention of the National Humane Society.  A representative inspected the facility, accompanied by Mayor Greco.  As they neared Herman's cage, they saw him pick up a handful of dirt.  Drawing closer, Greco said, "I want to see if he'll throw it."  Always obliging, Herman hurled away.  Herman had a remarkable ability to recall faces, or possibly even to sense a person's powerful position and reputation.  

(Zoo Story, by Thomas French - Chapter 5 "Royalty")

 


Sept. 5, 1995 - Tampa - Lee Ann Rottman, a zookeeper at the Lowry Park Zoo, gives some chimps (probably Herman) a snack.  She is going to Uganda, Africa to study chimps that have been released on Isinga Island in the Queen Elizabeth National Park.  Tampa Bay Times archives photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.
 

 


Herman enjoys a Christmas gift of edible snacks during Presents for Primates at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa in 2001.  TBT photo.

In the spring of 2006, as he neared his 40th birthday, Herman's chin hair was turning silver. He was getting older. In captivity, chimps can live to be 55. Herman had slowed down a little. But he still displayed for his fans, stomping around and bristling his hair to make himself look bigger. He still flirted with blondes. Ed Schultz, Herman's old friend, still came to see him. Schultz had retired years before and now worked as a docent at the zoo.

 

Herman watched the approach of a tall man from his perch. He didn't know the man's name, but he recognized him. The old man with the thick white hair and weathered face stood at the edge of the chimp exhibit and grinned. Herman saw him and rocked his body and raised his arm in greeting. "That's my son", said Ed Schultz, turning to any visitors that would listen to him - some 35 years had passed since Ed and his family had brought Herman to Lowry Park. Ed was 91 now and hanging on the best he could. Ed still lived in Tampa, and his favorite pastime was going to see Herman and telling stories about their lives together. Herman felt a deep connection to Ed, and the zookeepers noticed an edge of desperation in Herman, especially when his visits ended. Sometimes the zookeepers wished he wouldn't so often; because every time Ed walked away, it seemed to leave Herman shaken and upset

 

St. Pete Times, FLORIDIAN Section E. Dec. 6, 2007 - Zoo Story - Life. Death. The Paradox of Freedom, Ch. 3 - Imperfect Love

Below:  March 22, 2005, Tampa - World-renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall  speaks with members of the press while clutching Mr. H, a stuffed toy given to Goodall in 1996 by friend Gary Haun.  

(Right) Mar. 21, 2005 - World-renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall signs copies of her book, "The Ten Trusts," for Naples resident Heather Burch, while sitting on the banks near the water outside the A La Carte Pavilion on Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2005. Goodall was the keynote speaker at the 4th Annual Women of Distinction Luncheon held at the A La Carte Pavilion on Tuesday. The luncheon, which benefited the Girl Scouts of Suncoast Council, Inc., honored Sally Lowry Baldwin, a Founding Chair of the Lowry Park Zoological Society, Dr. Karen Brown Dunlap, president of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, Ruth Binnicker Eckerd, chair of the Eckerd family Foundation, and Dorothy S. Mitchell, a Pasco County philanthropist and former member of the first all-woman School Board in Pasco County. (Times Photos by Keri Wiginton)

 

 

THE FIGHT

The fight appeared to be a struggle for dominance, common in the socially complex chimp world. They have a strict hierarchal order. Females ally with males, who fight to establish their rank within the group. Herman, and Bamboo, who was 44, were the only adult male chimps at Lowry Park Zoo. There was an adolescent male, Alex, 8, who was 'totally confused' by the fight, said David Murphy, the zoo's veterinarian who worked at the zoo since 1986. There were also three females, Jamie, Rukiya and Twiggy, although Twiggy was in the night house when the fight started.

Alex and Herman, TBT Photo

Zookeepers realized Rukiya was the most intelligent of the zoo's chimps. Herman was the patient leader who looked out for all the others. Rukiya was more cunning and calculated. She often stole food from Herman and manipulated his emotions.
 


Bamboo, 2005/2006

Tampa Bay Times archives photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

 



Rukiya, 2005/2006
Tampa Bay Times archives photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

Dr. Murphy received an emergency radio call about 12:30 p.m. Thursday, June 8, alerting him to the fight. He rushed to the habitat, where zoo employees had already sprayed the chimps with water, which usually quells any kind of disturbance, and ushered the females into the night house. But that didn't work this time. The males continued to fight and it took another ten minutes to separate the aggressive males.
Lee Ann Rottman, one of the primate keepers, happened to be working that day. She and the other keepers did not witness the start of the fight. But they heard the commotion, rushed out and saw Bamboo and Rukiya attacking Herman. The chimps were screaming and their arms were flailing; and Bamboo was chasing Herman and beating him with his fists. Herman was clearly losing, even as he defended himself. The keepers tried to break it up. Soon, Herman was on the ground, sitting cross-legged, slumped over, his head down. He was not moving, even as Bamboo pounded him. Dr. Murphy could see that Bamboo was not just upset, but confused and frightened as well. Murphy tried to dart Bamboo but couldn't get a clear shot. Once Bamboo moved away, Dr. Murphy and a primate keeper hurried into the exhibit and dragged Herman into the night house to examine him. He was still breathing.

Right and below:  Bamboo eating romaine lettuce
Tampa Bay Times archives photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo. 2007

At the clinic, Dr. Murphy examined him more closely, checking Herman for shock, and getting an IV running and cleaning him up. His external injuries -- a few puncture wounds on his lip, a torn-up finger and toe -- did not appear catastrophic. But his pupils and breathing pattern made Murphy wonder whether he had suffered neurological trauma. As Murphy continued his examination, Rottman and Angela Belcher, the assistant curator in charge of primates, talked to Herman, trying to revive him. But he would not wake up; he had slipped into a coma. Leaving the others to watch over the Herman, Murphy went to the zoo's hospital to treat a sedated Rukiya, who was also injured, requiring stitches. She was expected to fully recover. Murphy was still working on her when a call came from the clinic not long before 7 p.m. -- Herman had stopped breathing. Rushing back, the vet found people taking turns performing CPR on Herman's 90-pound body. Murphy tried for a while, then Rottman took over. They couldn't imagine the zoo or their lives without Herman. Finally though, they had no other choice.  The King was dead.  

 

Zoo officials closed the exhibit the next day.

 


Zoo visitors walk past an empty chimpanzee enclosure.
Tampa Bay Times archives photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

 

The next day, staff members still didn't know what caused Bamboo to viciously attack his old friend. They were also grieving over the loss of Herman, one of the zoo's oldest and most colorful characters.

 

The necropsy report was released several weeks later. Dr. Murphy found that Herman had died from acute head trauma and had also suffered from heart disease. The exam also revealed a clue as the extent of Ruyika's involvement in the attack. Although Bamboo had beaten Herman severely, it would have been hard for him to inflict the bites they found on Herman. Bamboo was old and somewhat feeble and virtually had no teeth. It was one of the reasons he had trouble defending himself when the females bullied him.

 

Bamboo and Herman behaved like the best of friends since they were introduced in 2001, laughing and tickling each other as they played in their exhibit. "Everybody considered them buddies, they were like two old grandpas rolling around on the ground together."

 

The day after Herman's death, the zoo allowed Ed to say goodbye. Ed felt lost. With tears in his eyes, he took his hand and kissed Herman's  forehead. He spoke softly and called him son. He told him he missed him and that the two of them would soon be reunited on the other side. After Herman's death, Ed didn't go to the zoo much anymore. He couldn't bring himself to look into the chimp exhibit and not see his friend waiting there for him.  


Herman having more fun than a barrel of...
1991
Tampa Bay Times archives photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.
(Chimps aren't monkeys, they are apes.  Monkeys have tails.)

 

SOURCES

 

In 2007, author Thomas French, St. Pete Times, wrote a 9-part series for the "FLORIDIAN" section of the St. Pete Times titled "Zoo Story - Life. Death. The Paradox of Freedom."

About the newspaper series: Over the past four years (2003-2007), St. Petersburg Times staff writer Thomas French and staff photographer Stefanie Boyar chronicled life inside Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. With the zoo's permission, they followed the keepers and the animals, interviewing everyone from the volunteers to the zoo's CEO. French and Boyar witnessed most of the events described in this series. By necessity, though, some scenes were reconstructed. Today's sections describing how the elephants arrived at Tampa International and were escorted to Lowry Park are based on interviews with Mick Reilly in Swaziland, and with Lex Salisbury, Lee Ann Rottman, Larry Killmar and others at Lowry Park. The scenes describing the elephants' first days at the zoo are based on interviews with Brian French and Steve Lefave who were entrusted with the elephants' care. Brian French is not related to Thomas French, the Times reporter. The scenes describing the zoo's efforts to save ailing manatees are based on interviews with David Murphy, Lowry Park's veterinarian, and Virginia Edmonds and other staff members. In addition, the Times witnessed the vet and the keepers working with manatees at the zoo and accompanied the staff on several manatee releases.

 

 

In 2010, French published his book, Zoo Story, Life in the Garden of Captives.

   

 

2006 - Aug. - Lowry Park Zoo president and chief executive Lex Salisbury, left, general curator Lee Ann Rottman, veterinarian Dr. David Murphy and zoo board member Bill Blanchard answer questions about a tiger which escaped from its night house Tuesday evening and was killed.

STORY SUMMARY: Press conference at Lowry Park Zoo after Enshala, a Sumatran tiger, escaped her night house on Tuesday and was killed by zoo president and chief executive Lex Salisbury. An unlocked latch allowed the tiger to roam into a nearby exhibit still under construction.

8/22/2006 Tampa Bay Times archives photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

 

 

 

Story and photo sources:

St. Pete Times FLORIDIAN Section E, Dec. 10, 2007 Zoo Story - Chapter 6 "The Human Exhibit,

Zoo Story, 2010 Chapter 12 "Undertow"

Zoo Story, 2007 Chapter 1 Code One

Zoo Story, Dec. 2007 Guide

Florida Parent-Educators Assoc. (FPEA) Animal Story - Blog  

Requiem For Royal Duo October 2, 2006 By Thomas French, St. Petersburg Times

Zoo Story - Life in the Garden of Captives, Google books

Home is Where the Boat Is.net Sept. 2010 - Zoo Story

St. Pete Times, FLORIDIAN Section E. Dec. 6, 2007 - Zoo Story -  Ch. 3 - Imperfect Love

One minute, harmony; the next, chimp mayhem St. Petersburg Times -  Weimar, Carrie Date: Jun 10, 2006

This Place is a Zoo - by Doug Porter, Sept. 14, 2015

 


Back to Lowry Park & Fairyland History

 

TampaPix Home