Our baby chimps
At the chimp orphanage in Tchimpounga in Congo (Central Africa), a whole team from the Jane Goodall Institute takes care of baby chimpanzees. It is illegal to sell keep or chimps in this region, but as often happens, these baby chimps are confiscated at markets or private homes when they are discovered. In many instances the mother chimp is killed for food (bush meat) or she loses her life when forests are cut back and she is unable to obtain food. The little orphan baby chimp will often still cling to its dead mother’s body while being brought to the city to be sold as a pet. It’s really lucky if our JGI team manages to find the little one and can bring it to the sanctuary at Tchimpounga. When babies arrive at the orphanage, they are often weak and underfed, and may need a lot of medical care to start the recovery process
Here are the stories of our three baby chimps told by Rebeca, Veterinarian and Director at Tchimpounga.
Mbebo means “lip” and his protruding lower lip clearly decided his name. He was confiscated in Brazzaville at the market when he was one year old. All chimps need to stay in a separate area to make sure they are not sick (otherwise they might transfer a disease to others) when they arrive at Tchimpounga. “He ended up in a temporary cage together with two brothers, Makasi and Leki. They came along well and played together” says Rebeca.
“One day, however, they managed to escape when a student had not closed the door properly. We found the cage empty and all of us immediately started looking for the three baby chimps, because it was really dangerous for them to be wandering off by themselves. We found the two brothers rather quickly walking on the path towards the forest, but no sign of Mbebo… It was getting dark and we still had not found Mbebo. Being worried about the little baby chimp but too dark to look any further, I returned to the cage and sank down on the floor. I was feeling exhausted and very sad. Suddenly, I heard a little noise and just saw a box next to me moving … and out came little Mbebo to touch my arm. It was as if he comforted me, but probably little Mbebo just was glad to see someone ! “
He cuddled up on her lap and Rebecca put him back in the cage without any problem. In fact, he had probably been hiding under the box all along! Today, he has become a real explorer!
How can you adopt Mbebo ? Click here to find out.
When they found her, Lemba looked very tired and Rebecca also felt very tired of finding yet another baby chimp to rescue. Lemba means “I am tired”. Right from the start Lemba was a very sweet and a dependent little baby, always clinging to her keepers, but she was not that lucky and Rebeca told us her story:
“She arrived at the time when all people in the Republic of Congo, including the keepers at Tchimpounga, needed to get a polio vaccination. In order to prevent the keepers transmitting the polio virus to the chimps, all the 152 chimps at Tchimpounga were vaccinated as well, but it came too late for Lemba. First, she got fever, and then one by one both her legs and arms went numb. However, she stayed in a good mood and smiled all the time. The veterinarians asked me whether they should put her to sleep because they expected her to be lame the rest of her life, but I had heard of a treatment of paralysed limbs used on people being successful in some cases: to stimulate each limb every day might bring back some life in them. Every day, Lemba’s fingers, arms, toes, and legs were massaged by the keepers. After 15 days, they saw one finger moved. Maybe they saw it wrong… no, it really moved! After 20 days, one arm moved again; after 3 months two arms, and then one knee, and then the whole leg moved again. Only the last leg remained lifeless”.
Today, Lemba learned how to walk with the help of her arms and she is excellent in climbing trees. She is a very happy chimp and actually is quite dominant in her group!
How can you adopt Lemba? Click here to find out.
Mambou means “problem” or “trouble” : his condition was life threatening when he arrived at Tchimpounga. He was exhausted, apathetic, totally dehydrated and had a severe parasite infection. When the veterinarians considered giving up, because it looked as if they could not help him to stay alive, Rebecca and the other caretakers decided to fight for his life.
“We gave him intravenous food and little by little he started to recover. After one month of daily intensive care, he was unrecognizable. He is a very active, happy young chimp who enjoys playing all day long. Today, he continues to live up to his name, which means “trouble” in the local language. He is constantly getting into mischief! He plays with everyone, including the dogs. The dog, Tango, is his best friend and he tickles Mambou’s belly with his nose while Mambou laughs nonstop.”
How can you adopt Mambou ? Click here to find out.
Here you can read more about our three baby chimps.