When young Bailiele arrived at Tchimpounga in 2007, he came to a sanctuary full of young orphaned chimpanzees just like him. In that year, JGI took ten chimpanzee infants into care at Tchimpounga...many more than we usually see in an average year.
While this was a very challenging time for Tchimpounga’s staff, who had their hands full caring for 10 young chimpanzees who needed round-the-clock care, it was a wonderful time for Bailiele and the rest of the chimps. After the trauma of being taken from their mothers at such a young age, they now got to heal physically and emotionally with a group of peers to help them figure out chimpanzee society.
Today, Bailiele’s adventures are far from over. Not too long ago, JGI began the process of getting Bailele ready to move to Tchibebe Island, one of Tchimpounga’s new island sanctuary sites. Unlike his time at the main sanctuary site, on Tchibebe Bailiele will have a lush forest in which to roam and play with his fellow island chimps.
To help ease the transition, Bailiele was introduced to the island along with his friend Leki. Both chimps were able to explore the island at their own pace under the watchful eye of their caregivers. Bailiele was a little nervous at first, but soon calmed down enough to climb a few trees and reacquaint himself with a few old chimpanzee friends who have already been moved to Tchibebe. We at JGI are so happy that Bailiele will soon be able to call Tchibebe home!
Most days, Jeje is allowed to go explore a little patch of forest in the Tchimpounga reserve with the rest of his group, Group 4, and his Tchimpounga caregivers. However, when wild chimpanzees are seen in the forests near Tchimpounga, it isn’t safe to bring the little chimps of Group 4 out to play. Instead they play in their outdoor enclosure, which can be a bit boring for a boisterous chimp like Jeje.
Like a young child, Jeje sometimes resorts to annoying others to relieve his boredom. One day when the chimps were not able to go into the forest to play, Jeje’s friend Mondele decided to play a game where he attempts to keep an object balanced on his back for as long as possible. Mondele placed a small rock carefully on his back, and began to walk through the enclosure.
Seeing this, Jeje decided to create his own game; trying to knock the rock off of Mondele’s back. His tactics were kicking at Mondele’s feet and slapping the rock away with his hands. When Mondele finally had enough and turned to hit Jeje, Jeje cried out ... and then convinced Mondele to apologize to him!
Jeje then went off to play with his groupmates Alex and Antonio, who were busy digging a hole in the dirt. This game seemed to bore Jeje, and he started to walk away. Before leaving, however, he couldn’t help but look back and push Alex into the hole he was digging! Alex chased Jeje to get him back, but Jeje got away. Hopefully Group 4 is able to return to the forest soon, and Jeje’s friends can get a respite from his antics.
Young Anzac sleeps with her friends Willy, Sam and Zola. Since it's now the dry season in the Republic of Congo, overcast days and cool nights are made even cooler by the offshore winds that arrive in the dry season. Zola and Anzac hug each other for warmth. Their mothers are gone, and so the orphans have to help each other. Others, like Sam and Willy, prefer to make a nest with dry and soft grass that caregivers put in the bedroom. During the winter months, staff provides extra bedding to the younger and older chimpanzees, giving them blankets or towels to use in their nest to help retain more warmth.
In the morning Anzac and her companions go outside into the enclosure. They play a little while caretakers are busy preparing bottles of warm milk for them. The sun begins to rise on the horizon and the freshness of the morning changes the cold morning into a balmy day.
Every year, when temperatures drop, many chimps become vulnerable to flu viruses that abound in the human communities. Caregivers and the veterinary team conduct thorough monitoring of each chimpanzee, especially smaller ones like Anzac This year she has not yet been sick, although some of her companions have. The veterinary team administers most of their medicines orally, using a large plastic syringe to offer medicine directly into the mouth of each sick individual. Anzac managed to “steal” one from the vet team as they were giving Sam his medicine. Anzac is very fast and no one was able to recover the syringe from her. For Anzac, this syringe is a perfect toy to play with. She has great imagination, using it like a cup, as she refills the syringe barrel with water from their water fountain. This process is quite challenging, as Anzac has to put just enough pressure on the fountain to ensure it dribbles into the syringe, rather than spurts her in the face. She also has to block the end of the syringe, so she does not lose the water. She does this all with just one arm, as her left arm was amputated before she arrived to the sanctuary. Staff suspect that she may have either lost her arm in a snare or from a bullet wound during the killing of her mother.
Yet, even with this disability, she proves extremely skillful in the use of the syringe as a water vessel. The other, younger chimps come to watch, to beg for a sip from her novel “cup.” But she pays them no heed; instead she remains focused on her new favorite toy. Even when the caregivers take the younger chimpanzees to the forest with group four, Anzac hides her new toy in her mouth. She was so attentive of her new toy that, even the next day, staff could see her still playing with it.