monkey Meet Lemba, Mbebo and Mambou

The stories of our chimps


Lemba photoLemba was confiscated with the assistance of HELP Congo and local wildlife authorities. Lemba was severely malnourished because of a heavy parasite infestation.

Lemba is a very calm and gentle chimp. While her drooping ears give her a sad look, she is actually one of the happiest chimpanzees at Tchimpounga. She loves all her caregivers and is a favorite with everyone-human and nonhuman alike!

At the end of 2010, a polio epidemic hit Pointe Noire. Much to the surprise of the sanctuary’s management and staff, Lemba succumbed to the disease, despite the fact that she had been vaccinated in the past. She was vaccinated with the killed polio virus, not the live version. Apparently, it was not foolproof.

When she first fell ill, the veterinary team thought they would lose her. Today, however Lemba’s upper body is close to normal, but sadly, she has yet to recover the use of her lower limbs. However, Lemba’s disability does not seem to deter her. She has found other ways to move around and has an incredibly strong upper body.

Adopt her now!

More on Lemba at the Youth Corner and on the different Chimp Guardian options at our webshop.


Mbebo photoMbebo was originally confiscated in Brazzaville by law enforcement authorities with the assistance of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Aspinall Foundation’s program (PPG). He was held for a short time in Brazzaville Zoo until Dr. Ken Cameron from WCS offered to escort him to Tchimpounga.

On arrival, Mbebo was in good physical condition and weighed 5 kilograms. Tests indicated that, like most new arrivals, Mbebo had several intestinal parasite infestations that needed to be treated.

Mbebo was given his name by the Tchimpounga staff because of his habit of relaxing his lower lip, which makes it droop and gives him a constant perplexed look.

He is dynamic, active and curious, and wants to explore new places and things. He is always on the move and makes life difficult for his caregiver (Antoinette).

Mbebo has some interesting tool-use behavior that we have not seen in the other infants. This leads us to believe that he observed his mother using tools and that he is mimicking her behavior. Mbebo is also fairly good at recognizing wild food plants.

Adopt him now!

More on Mbebo at the Youth Corner and on the different Chimp Guardian options at our webshop.


Mambou photoMambou was originally confiscated and taken to Brazzaville Zoo. Unfortunately, during his time there he contracted a severe case of Candida, which is caused by an overdose of medication. Candida often results in death. Mambou was unable to eat or drink orally, so all nourishment had to be administered via intravenous fluids for three weeks. The veterinary team’s constant care and attention saved him.

Today, Mambou continues to live up to his name, which means “trouble” in the local language. He is constantly getting into mischief! He is a very active, happy young chimp who enjoys playing all day long. He plays with everyone, including the dogs.

During a recent fungal infection in the nursery group, Mambou was separated and kept with Lemba because of his past illness. While with Lemba, Mambou had the run of the sanctuary, keeping the staff on its toes all day long. He is full of mischief, but also full of love. He enjoys being hugged and carried by anyone willing to offer.

Adopt him now!

More on Mambou at the Youth Corner and on the different Chimp Guardian options at our webshop.

The past and the future

In 2011, after three years of planning and hard work, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) successfully secured the land necessary to expand the Tchimpounga. JGI expanded the sanctuary by building supplementary facilities on three islands in the nearby Kouilou River. The islands will offer the chimpanzees a much larger, natural setting where they can learn, grow and build social bonds in a secure environment. The chimps JGI Belgium was sponsoring, Petit Prince, Kudia and Timi, were selected to go to the islands and it will become much harder to receive regular personal updates of them. We have therefore opted to take Petit Prince, Kudia and Timi out of the adoption programme and replace them with three young chimpanzee babies Lemba, Mambou and Mbebo. For our members that were previously supporting Timi, Kudia and/or Petit Prince, they have the option to select new chimps to adopt or continue to support Timi, Kudia and/or Petit Prince and receive general information about what’s going on, on the islands:


kudiaWhen she was about 2 years old she already suffered a major trauma. She didn’t only loose her mother – as so many killed by poachers – but she also got terribly abused and showed obvious malnutrition. All over her body, she had several injuries. The day she got confiscated she was transferred to Tchimpounga where Oulengue, another young chimpanzee who had arrived the previous day, was there to welcome her.

Also Chantal, her future adoptive mother gave her a warm welcome and named her ‘Kudia’, which means mango, because she kept eating from the mango fruit offered to her the day she arrived. Thanks to the affection, protection and right nutrition, Kudia started regaining vitality. Fortunately Kudia is in good hands now ! Kudia turned 8 years in 2012 and was among the first 6 chimps to be released on Tchindzoulou Island. It was not planned she would leave Tchimpounga that early, but she had become a master in escaping!

Petit Prince

petit princePetit Prince arrived at Tchimpounga completely dehydrated and barely alive. He was found in a truck, tied in a bag, his right leg terribly injured, probably by a snare. When he arrived at the sanctuary he couldn’t use his leg and it seemed as if he didn’t have any feeling in it. Graziella, one of the keepers, took him to a vet who was able to save him. The vet taught Graziella how to massage his leg and told her how to do exercises to improve his muscle strength. Thanks to Graziella’s prompt reaction Petit Prince’s leg is completely healed and has become a lot stronger.

Today Petit Prince is a happy chimpanzee who prefers his own company above the one of others. He regularly sits aloof from the rest of Group 4, with his friend and mentor Coquelle, a small female chimpanzee. They seem quite happy with each other’s company. Petit Prince never misses the opportunity though to get a hug from his keepers or occasional visitors. Often, when the chimpanzees leave their enclosure to go to the night quarters, Petit Prince tries to escape to jump into the arms of the nearest person available to get another little hug. Petit Prince definitely lives up to his name.


timiTimi was the 75th chimpanzee that came to Tchimpounga. Timi is a real “survivor”. He is very easy going, affectionate and very soft natured. He likes the company of the other chimpanzees but unfortunately he still bears the scars of former traumas. Nobody really knows where he came from. He was probably another victim of the bushmeat trade; kidnapped after his mother got killed and eaten. All we know is that someone, probably the poacher, had sold him a few villages away from where the JGI team rescued him.

In the beginning Timi needed a lot of reassurance. Now he still comes for a cuddle when he’s afraid and holds tight to his security blanket when he goes to sleep.