Wild Inside: Hanging out with Stevie!

Checking in on Zoo Knoxville’s social media sensation
We check in on Zoo Knoxville's social media sensation Stevie, the one-year-old chimpanzee.
Published: Jun. 14, 2023 at 12:26 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Before she became the cutest social media star at Zoo Knoxville, Stevie the chimpanzee had quite the entrance into the world.

Her mom, Binti, got sick during birth, and zookeepers at Zoo Knoxville had to step in to care for baby Stevie.

“We ended up having to put her under anesthesia and kind of fix her up a little bit.” Said KateLyn Miller, a zookeeper with the apes and chimpanzees at Zoo Knoxville. “Once she was awake, she was really sick. She wasn’t up and moving for quite a while. So we had to we had to come in and hand rear because of that.”

Two chimps, Daisy & Jumbo, have stepped in to be surrogate moms to Stevie.

“We had to pick the moms that we thought were going to be best suited for her.” Said Miller. “Daisy has had babies in the past and we know she did really well with them. Jumbo came from the Maryland Zoo and they have quite a few babies there so she has experience. We put our youngest and our oldest female together, and they kind of made this cohesive group of moms.

Fast forward a year later, and Stevie is thriving, hitting many of the goals that zookeepers set along the way.

Stevie is unmistakable at the zoo simply because of her size, but her tie-die blanket really helps the littlest chimp stand out among the rest.

“When she was hand raised, we had her in a blanket and on a kind of a cloth that mimics a chimps hair. Once we put her in with with the girls, she clinged on to that and continues to carry that blanket around with her. Every day she’s got a different blanket that she carries.”

Over the last year, pictures and videos of Stevie have spread like wild across social media. The one-year-olds cuteness is hard to ignore.

“She is sweet, loving, playful, independent. She’s a very independent girl. We we expected her to be more wanting to cling on to the moms and she doesn’t she wants to be by herself.”

For Miller, who helped raise Stevie, the bond made with the chimpanzees makes it even tougher to let her go into the exhibit for good.

“I was there the first night that she was born. When we decided we had to hand rear I was like, Okay, we’re doing it. Feeding her every couple of hours changing her, going through that for six months and then her having to go in there was pretty rough. I want her to be a chimp you know, I don’t want her to be a human oriented chimp. I don’t want her to kind of imprint on us. But at the same time, you know, I still can watch her, and watch her grow as she’s in here with them.”

To learn more about Stevie and to see how to see her for yourself, click here!