In January, the first confiscated chimpanzee of the year arrived at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center. The chimpanzee was confiscated by authorities in northern Congo and lived with the local chief of police for a month before being transferred to Brazzaville Zoo. Staff at the Aspinall Foundation, an organization that works on gorilla conservation in the Congo, collected and cared for the chimp until he was able to be flown to Pointe Noire, where our team at Tchimpounga took over the permanent care of the little fellow.
We named him Antonio-“A” because he was the first confiscation of the year. We pray that he will be the last.
Tchimpounga's veterinary team immediately conducted a thorough exam of Antonio. He weighed in at five kilograms and was estimated to be one year old. The vets discovered that Antonio had parasites, which are very common when young chimps undergo stress and trauma. Antonio will be treated and tested regularly for the next three months while he is in quarantine.
Antonio’s new mom is Simone, one of our experienced caregivers. Simone will see Antonio through his first three months at the sanctuary. After that time, Antonio will start spending more time integrating with other chimps of the same age and size. He will most likely join Lemba’s little group, which also includes Mbebo and Alex.
At Tchimpounga, Antonio will have a second chance at life and hopefully return to his native forest one day.
This week, caregivers at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of Congo introduced the infant chimpanzee group to the world of art. The fruits of their enrichment activity: unique paintings for JGI-USA’s fall online benefit auction on Chairtybuzz, which is currently underway unitl November 9th.
The staff’s attempt to get each chimp’s footprints on paper was quickly replaced with reckless abandon as the chimps grabbed paint, brushes, bowls, paper and sponges and did what they pleased with them…as usual!
Alex, the newest arrival at the sanctuary, and wonderful Lemba, who is recovering from polio, were the only chimps who would cooperate with footprints. The others simply had a paint party and created all kinds of havoc on paper and on everything and everyone else nearby.
Here are a few pictures of recent events at Tchimpounga.
First, one of our new arrivals gets washed down. When chimps first come to Tchimpounga, many of them are malnourished and have infections. Getting them hydrated and clean is the first step to their second chance.
Second is Makasi and Lobo. Their story was featured in last winter's update. As you can see, they are still the best of friends.
Lastly, is a photo of our youngest resident at Tchimpounga. Though the females at Tchimpounga are on a form of birth control, one of them surprised the staff by giving birth to this little guy sometime ago. Now you can see this little fellow catching a ride on his mom's back everywhere.
Kauka may be one of the most social chimps of Tchimpounga’s Rehabilitation Centre. Ever since he was a baby he has had an innate ability to get along with all the other chimps in his group. Although he sometimes suffers blows from his peers Kauka takes no action against them. For these reasons the vet team has chosen Kauka to help through difficult situations, when a chimp has to be isolated in the dormitories for days due to illnesses. These are difficult moments for the chimps because they see all their friends go out to the exterior installation and they have to remain inside to be treated. The keepers from Tchimpounga try to make these days easier for the chimp and let Kauka spend time with the sick chimps. These chimps feel better and more comfortable with Kauka present. He caresses the sick chimps, hugs and plays with them when they are more recovered. When his job is done he is rewarded with a slice of watermelon or a bunch of bananas, two of his favorite foods. Kauka continues to grow and his body is larger and bigger, as big as his good heart.
Pointe Noire is situated some forty kilometres from Tchimpounga. An unexplained Polio epidemic has arose in Pointe Noire. JGI decided to take precautionary measures to avoid the contamination of the chimps with this terrible disease. The keepers and vet team started using gloves and masks. The chimpanzees couldn’t understand very well why these people were dressed up in this strange way. Kudia found all this as a motive for play. Kudia has spent the last weeks trying to steal Brice’s (her caretaker) gloves without succeeding. Chimps as well as people are attracted by bright colors, like orange or red. Brice has to be very patient with Kudia and never take his gloves off. However, Kudia took advantage of a moment when Brice took his gloves off to wash his hands. Immediately a party ensued, Kuaka, Ulengue, Manisa , Luc and the rest of the friends climbed a tree with their prize and stayed there for hours. They looked down at Brice who was begging them to return his gloves back. It wasn’t until 5:30 pm when the chimps descended to go into their dormitories for the night that they dropped the gloves to the ground.
Great Story of New Friends
Makasi, Laki and Mbebo are the last chimpanzees that arrived at Tchimpounga after being seized by the Congolese Ministry of Water and Forests. The three chimps stay together day after day playing carelessly beside their guardian Godelin. This is an image and story that usually repeats itself in Tchimpounga. However, some weeks ago something surprising happened; the Center of Tchimpounga director’s dog, a young German shepherd, some five months old, guided by curiosity approached this group of chimps for the first time. Normally chimps at this age are fearful of any new things that appear in their environment, but on this occasion Makasi took the initiative of lunging herself on Lobo and started playing with him. Lobo reacted immediately and started pursuing and rolling on the ground with Makasi, while Leki and Mbebo shyly observed them. Makasi grabbed Lobo by the neck and made him fall on his side meanwhile Lobo moved his legs trying to defend himself. This was the first day of a great friendship. Since that day we are all used to see Makasi and Lobo’s persecutions in the bushes of the Tchimpounga garden.
Tchimpounga’s Natural Reserve is the smallest protected zone of Congo. The great biodiversity that hides within its forests including the large number of chimpanzee’s communities has promoted the idea of extending the limits of this Reserve. In the next weeks an agreement with the Congolese Government will be closed so that the new area includes zones of forests and marshes rich in flora and fauna. When these limits are finalized the new area of the Reserve will be of approximately 55.260 acres. This will be a great advance in the protection of chimps and their ecosystems.
Kudia, Kauka and Luc
These last weeks have not been easy for the chimps of Group 4 where Kudia, Kauka and Luc live. Like every day, the caretakers of the group opened the exterior installation gate and all the chimps Kudia included went out excited and happy to spend their day in a nearby forest. They all walked a long distance through the savannah before reaching the forest. Adolphe and Brice were the caretakers that accompanied this group. Kudia, like usual, was not the first in line or the last, she prefers walking in the middle of the group protected by her peers.
Reaching the edge of the forest Brice observed surprised the figure of a large chimp male emerging. First they thought it was an escapee from the Tchimpounga Centre. This worried him. Adolphe tried to find out who it was but didn’t recognize him. Behind this large male three more appeared, they were heavy set adult males. The chimps from the group started reacting fearfully when the large males approached them. Some chimps from the group ran without direction and hid in the forest, others stayed hugging each other beside the caretakers. Adolphe and Brice started calling the chimps back and tried to return quickly to the Centre. . Kauka couldn’t even run because he was so scared. His hair stood up on end and his small hands were clinging strongly to Brice’s shirt. Kudia was clinging to Brice as well. The adult males were not from the Centre, they were wild chimps that were ambushing the chimps in Group 4. One of the chimps that ran to hide in the forest was Kozanza, who was trapped and killed by these male chimps.
After a huge effort they all arrived to the exterior Installation. Everyone knew that something bad had happened. They haven’t gone out to the woods since then.
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