Adie Timmermans is heartbroken after a zoo in Antwerp, Belgium, stopped her from visiting a 38-year-old chimpanzee called Chita because their relationship was deemed unhealthy for his solicitation with the other chimps.

Ms Timmermans has been visiting Chita on a weekly basis for four years. She says they struck up a friendship at first, but it soon developed into a real “relationship”. During their visits, they would reportedly blow kisses to each other and wave through the glass.

Broken-hearted, she told Antwerp TV: “I love that animal and he loves me. I haven’t got anything else. Why do they want to take that away?

“We are having an affair, I’ll just say. Other dozens of visitors are allowed to make contact. Then why not me?”

A zoo spokesperson said that the other chimps in Chita’s enclosure exclude him because he has had contact with humans. So, when visiting hours are not open, he must spend 15 hours alone as a result of his banishment.

Zoo curator Sarah Lafaut said: “When Chita is constantly surrounded by visitors, the other animals ignore him and don’t consider him part of the group.

“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.”