• Woman says the attraction is mutual and the relationship is real
  • The chimp’s friendliness towards human has made it a pariah among its own kind
  • Woman says the ban is unfair as other zoo-goers are still allowed to meet the chimp

A Belgian woman took her love for animals to the next level by allegedly having an "affair" with a chimpanzee at a zoo.

Adie Timmermans has been banned from visiting a male chimpanzee at a zoo in Antwerp after zoo officials termed the relationship between the two unhealthy. Timmermans said that she had been visiting the 38-year-old chimp named Chita every week for the past four years, reported the New York Post. In this time, Timmermans says that she had formed a strong bond with the primate, which is similar to a real "relationship."

She believes that the attraction between the Chimp and her is mutual.

"I love that animal and he loves me," said Timmermans to the Belgian channel ATV.

Zoo officials claimed that the unhealthy relationship between Chita and the woman makes the chimp a pariah among other socializing chimps. "When Chita is constantly surrounded by visitors, the other animals ignore him and don’t consider him part of the group," zoo curator Sarah Lafaut told ATV.

According to Lafaut, Chita spends about 15 hours a day alone when not visited by humans. "An animal that is too focused on people is less respected by its peers. We want Chita to be a chimpanzee as much as possible," she added.

Timmermans, heartbroken due to the ban, said "I haven’t got anything else. Why do they want to take that away?"

The woman said that the ban is unfair and is only enforced on her, while other zoo-goers are still permitted to visit Chita.

"Of course we are happy when our visitors feel so involved with the animals, but animal welfare comes first here," said Lafaut to Radio 2 Antwerp, reported LADBible. "Chita was brought to the zoo 30 years ago because he was a pet at the time and became unmanageable. He learned chimpanzee behavior with us, but the interest in humans has remained."

To Chita’s detriment, he has a strained relationship with his kind because of his friendliness with people. In fact, other chimps seriously injured Chita in 2008 during a fight.

Representational image Pixabay, public domain