Lemba is healthy and growing. Years ago, her legs were paralyzed by polio, but she has learned to move around with great skill and amazing speed.
Recently, the caregivers at Tchimpounga had to make the difficult decision to stop bringing several of the youngest chimpanzees to visit Lemba and La Vielle’s enclosure. It has become too difficult to walk these rambunctious youngsters from their enclosure to Lemba’s enclosure. The last few times they attempted this, two of the young chimpanzees got away from the caregivers and climbed to the ceiling of the bedrooms. The caregivers had to chase the two of them for hours before they managed to get them back out into the enclosure with the other chimpanzees. They are growing up and entering that age where they are mischievous, and interested primarily in their own agenda.
Lemba now spends her days in the company of La Vielle, an older chimpanzee with whom she has developed a good relationship. They do not have conflicts and they both spend a lot of time grooming and cleaning each other’s hair. A few days ago, an interesting thing happened to Lemba.
A new chimpanzee named Falero who came to Tchimpounga recently ended his quarantine period. Dr. Rebeca A., the director of Tchimpounga, decided to introduce Falero to Lounama, a chimpanzee with a heart condition at Tchimpounga who must be isolated from other chimpanzees while she is on a special diet and strict monitoring.
Lounama’s enclosure is next to Lemba’s, and the whole time while caregivers were introducing Falero and Lounama, Lemba watched every detail through the fence. She was so excited that she started screaming uncontrollably. She was so happy to have a new neighbor.
Falero, a quiet and sweet natured chimpanzee, was a little unsure of Lounama at first, but he was quickly reassured by Lounama giving him gentle strokes and grooming. Soon Lemba also started to relax. La Vielle was also watching with interest. These four chimpanzees, Lounama, La Vielle, Falero and Lemba are in these special enclosures for different reasons, but are now neighbors and a little group of their own.
Zanaga is a female chimpanzee who now lives on Tchibebe Island with other chimps like Kefan, Kitoko, and Wounda. Zanaga is extremely intelligent, and is always discreet, quiet and observant. She tries to avoid conflict with other females, especially when times are tense, such as when the caregivers distribute food. Zanaga is fair when it comes to making sure that everyone has their share of food, but someone tries to steal hers she will defend her own share, surprising her groupmates with her determination.
Kefan, the alpha male of the group, loves Zanaga, and protects her and treats her well. Sometimes when other males try to intimidate her, Kefan will arrive to defend Zanaga, lifting his body and ruffling his hair while swinging branches around trying to intimidate Zanaga’s aggressors.
Koukele is one of Zanaga’s best friends. They have been together for many years and have shared great adventures now that they are free to roam the island. Some mornings the two depart the group and go for a walk alone around the island to look for fruit. They also like to rummage through the rotten wood of a fallen tree to hunt for small insects. Chimpanzees are omnivores, and eat more than just fruits and veggies. They also eat other animals, including small monkeys.
Zanaga is a chimpanzee who has a knack for walking upright on two feet for long distances. This allows her to carry things with their hands and cross area’s that are flooded by rain. Caregivers often watch her doing this and think of the common ancestor that humans and chimpanzees shared once long ago.
Recently, Tchimpounga's director, Dr. Rebeca Atencia, received a call about a baby chimpanzee that was being kept illegally as a pet. The chimpanzee's "owner" was arrested, and the chimp was brought to the Brazzaville Zoo before being transferred to Tchimpounga.
The little chimp, named Falero, was weak and depressed but luckily had no serious health issues or injuries. He will remain in quarantine for three months to protect his health and the health of his future chimpanzee group-mates. In the meantime, Falero is enjoying time with his adoptive "mother" Chantal, one of Tchimpounga's most experienced caregivers.
Falero has so far shown himself to be a very sweet and gentle chimpanzee who loves to play. Though he still suffers from poor sleep and nightmares, he is doing better every night, snuggled up to Chantal for comfort. Soon he will be introduced to a group of young chimpanzees like him, who were taken from their their mothers much too soon.
It is very important for Falero and all chimpanzees at Tchimpounga to develop relationships with other chimpanzees as well as their caregivers.