A Belgian zoo has asked a woman to stop visiting the chimpanzee with whom she claims to be "in love," claiming that she is making it difficult for him to fit in with his own species.
The Antwerp Zoo has asked Adie Timmermans to stop visiting its chimp enclosure on a weekly basis, where she claims to have been having a "relationship" with an ape named Chita for the past four years.
Timmermans' decision inspired her to share her own emotional account of the situation with Belgian media.
While wiping away tears, she told local broadcaster ATV, "I love that animal, and he loves me." "Let's just say we're having an affair."
Chita is becoming an outcast among his own species, according to zoo officials, as the other chimps will dislike him for spending too much time with humans.
"When Chita is constantly surrounded by visitors, the other animals ignore him and don't regard him as a member of the group," Sarah Lafaut, the zoo's mammalian manager, told ATV.
"An animal that is overly focused on people is regarded as less intelligent by its peers. "As much as possible, we want Chita to be a chimpanzee."
The 39-year-old chimp has been at the zoo for nearly three decades, after a pet owner couldn't handle his "behavioral issues," according to officials.
Chimpanzees live for an average of 40 years in the wild, though captive chimps can add another 10 to 20 years.