Like humans, chimpanzees are incredibly social animals who form strong friendships that can last a lifetime. The chimpanzees living at the Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) Tchimpounga sanctuary are no exception, especially two young chimpanzees named Mambou and Alex.
Mambou is a popular, extroverted chimpanzee who gets along with all of the other chimps in his group. Mambou doesn’t seem interested in being the alpha-male even though he is one of the strongest of his group, but he does use his physical power to protect his friends … friends like his best buddy, Alex.
Alex is a boisterous little chimpanzee who tends to get himself into trouble with the other chimpanzees in his group, for example when he bites them out of frustration when they won’t play with him. When Alex bites the wrong chimp and is on the receiving end of some rough-housing, he cries out for help. Who comes to his rescue? Mambou, of course!
Not only does Mambou look out for Alex, he is also a big pushover when it comes to his best friend. Every morning, JGI caregivers give the chimpanzees their morning snack of delicious fruits like mangos and bananas. A bit greedy, Alex will gobble up his share and then run to Mambou, whining and showing Mambou the palm of his hand. Mambou will then break the fruit he is holding in half and give one half to Alex … displaying generosity not often seen in hungry chimpanzees!
Meet Tiki, one of the chimpanzees living at the Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) Tchimpounga sanctuary.
All chimpanzees are intelligent, but Tiki is one of the brightest chimpanzees that Tchimpounga has ever cared for. Along with having a very sweet and gentle disposition, Tiki has a knack for creatively testing the barriers of his enclosure.
An expert toolmaker, Tiki was actually able to figure out how to divert the current in the electric fence surrounding his area. This genius maneuver allowed Tiki to attempt several escapes … until he had to be moved indoors to prevent future attempts. Although we were sad to have to keep Tiki inside, it was necessary if we were to ensure Tiki’s safety and the safety of our staff members.
But now, because of your help, Tiki is roaming free once again! The support of our generous donors allowed JGI to prepare one of our new island sanctuary sites, Tchibebe Island, for Tiki's release into the forest of Tchibebe.
Tiki can now climb trees, feel the earth under his feet and forage for tasty fruit … a far cry from his life as a confined escape-artist.
Along with his chimpanzee friends, Tiki will be able to explore Tchibebe in total safety for many years to come.
Mbebo has become great pals with Motambo over recent months. Motambo is a chimpanzee who came into the sanctuary with some of the worst injuries that our staff have ever witnessed. When Motambo first arrived, he was suffering from a broken collarbone, serious injuries to his left wrist and hips, injuries in his mouth and a severe case of tetanus which was causing him tremendous pain. Motambo spent the first 12 months recovering from his most serious injuries with La Vieille’s group, as he still needed to take it easy and had a fine fracture in his wrist that would take longer to heal. Once he was fit enough, Motambo was transferred to Mbebo’s group and they have been pals ever since. Each day, Mbebo’s group goes into the forest to play. Motambo, who is more cautious and unsure about leaving the enclosure than the other chimpanzees in his group, usually stays behind and refuses to join his friends on the walk across the grassland to the forest. This was fine with the caregivers; they are willing to let every chimpanzee progress at his own pace, but they still encouraged Motambo to join them. This meant that every day, Mbebo was torn between wanting to go with everyone to the forest or staying behind with his friend. Group 4’s daily forest walks are an important part of their education: not only does it provide them with enrichment and play opportunities, it allows them to learn about forest foods and to gain strength and stamina climbing and playing in their natural habitat.
Sometimes Mbebo would decide to go to the forest, then once he got there, would start crying to the staff, which they knew meant he wanted to go back to the enclosure and hang out with his friend Motambo! So the staff would have to walk back once again to let him spend time with Motambo. For the last two months, the caregivers have been working with Motambo to build up his confidence. Every day, they offer him the opportunity to leave the enclosure and walk to the forest with them and the other chimpanzees of Group 4. But last week, Motambo finally drummed up the courage to go with his friends to the forest! What a relief for Mbebo, who now has the best of both worlds. He can hang out all day with his best friend, and get to be in the forest with the rest of his group.