Care for orphan chimpanzee in Senegal

Oct 7, 2013

Orphan chimp Toto is one year old & doing great!

Toto is a little fearful as he learns to climb!
Toto is a little fearful as he learns to climb!

Orphan chimpanzee Toto has just turned one year old, and he has been in our care for just under one year.  He was orphaned at the age of 2 months after his mother died from a lethal snakebite and no other chimpanzees were in the area that could adopt him. With your help we have been able to assist with Toto's care. He is currently living in the town of Kedougou, Senegal, which is only about 10 miles from where he was born, in the Fongoli community of chimpanzees. He is in the charge of Janis Carter, who has a chimpanzee sanctuary in The Gambia (Baboon Islands National Park Chimpanzee Sanctuary), and his care is funded in large part by Friends of Animals organization, which works closely with Janis.

Janis has been caring for orphan chimpanzees in West Africa for more than 30 years, and Toto has 2 full-time caretakers, which means he is never alone. This is crucial for young chimpanzees, as they are never out of contact with their mother during their early years. In fact, if Toto were still with his mother, he would be nursing for another several years.  We will likely have to keep Toto for at least another year, unless there is an opportunity for him to be adopted by a female that has lost her own infant & could still nurse Toto. We are constantly assessing the options available for Toto and are ready to act should an opportunity for him arrive. Toto is very healthy, being more than twice the size of a wild chimp his age, and he fortunately did not suffer the degree of trauma most ape orphans do when they lose their mother.  Most infant apes are acquired after their mother has been killed, and they are kept in sub-standard conditions until they are fortunate enough to be confiscated by someone who can send them to sanctuary. Toto was of course traumatized by the death of this mother, but he was rescued soon after by humans he seemed to recognize (members of our Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project research team), and he was comforted for some time by his older sister Aimee who, unfortunately, could not have taken care of him given she was only 4 and a half years old herself.

We are very optimistic regarding the ultimate fate of Toto, and we could not continue caring for him were it not for the generosity of donors like yourself! Please follow the links provided to see some video of Toto as he explores wild plant foods for the first time and clips of him going out to "the bush".

Toto & one of his caretakers in "the bush"
Toto & one of his caretakers in "the bush"



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Project Leader

Jill Pruetz

Ames, Iowa United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Care for orphan chimpanzee in Senegal