Cherie is a female chimpanzee with a long history and with a deep bond to Tchimpounga. Prior to being transferred to the sanctuary of the Jane Goodall Institute, Cherie was living at the Brazzaville Zoo. She was sharing a cage with two other chimpanzees named Bob and Gregoire. Bob was still a baby, so Cherie became his adoptive mother. These three chimpanzees where transferred to Tchimpounga sixteen years ago when the civil war began in the country.
Eleven years ago, Cherie became pregnant and gave birth to her first biological son named Simmy. This pregnancy was not planned, but was caused by the failure of the contraception we were using at the time. Most of the contraceptives applied with chimpanzees were made for humans and there is no way of knowing if they are equally effective. The Tchimpounga staff members do everything they can to avoid captive births of chimpanzees because these young chimps will have the hardest time adapting in the wild.
The instability of the group she was in forced the caregivers to separate mother and son from the group in order to protect the baby. Once the baby was old enough, Cherie and Simmy returned to Group Two, with Moubolou acting as the alpha male of this group.
In the past year, Cherie has been a ringleader in numerous escapes from Group Two’s enclosure, and for security reasons the caregivers had to keep her and her son inside during the day. Thanks to all the donors and partners who have helped the Jane Goodall Institute in its efforts to expand the sanctuary to include the three majestic forest covered islands in the Kouilou River, we have been able to transfer Cherie and her son Simmy to one of these islands. This moment was very much celebrated by the sanctuary staff. Cherie is very special to all the caregivers and is one of their favorites, so seeing her go to such a beautiful new home was very emotional for the caregivers.
Currently Cherie and Simmy have already been integrated with Tchivanga, Luc, Zimbana, Nzounzou, Jorly, Yoko and Tabonga at the dormitory of Tchibebe Island. This introduction is possible due to the special structure of the dormitories. The sliding doors in between the different rooms allow the caregivers to integrate the groups safely and efficiently.