Project #13779

Care for Orphan Chimpanzee in Senegal

by Neighbor Ape

Wonderful news is that we've met our funding goal and Toto will very soon be headed to the Chimpanzee Conservation Centre sanctuary in Guinea! We plan on continuing support of Toto indefinitely and are arranging to have his main caretaker stay with him at the sanctuary from 3-6 months.

Needless to to say we could not have done this without the leadership of Janis Carter and the support of Friends of Animals after we rescued Toto in 2012. And Neighbor Ape's support of Toto would have been impossible without the generous donations of donors like yourself!

While we originally held out hope that Toto might be returned to his family group, given the changes associated with the gold rush and its associated influx of people as well as Toto's very large size for his age, the possibility of reuniting him with the Fongoli chimpanzees was rejected as being too risky.

We are very hopeful that Toto will fit in wonderfully at the CCC, and we will provide updates on social media as we receive them. Of course we all think Toto will be alpha male one day!

Toto & his "dad" Ousmane
Toto & his "dad" Ousmane

Happy New Year to our generous donors! Toto is continuing to do well, and we hope he will be moving soon to a facility where he is able to live with other chimpanzees. 

Toto is still very large for his age (at 3 years, he is larger than 6-year old wild Fongoli chimpanzee Cy!), but he is a very adept climber. He spends every day out in the bush and is familiar with many of the wild foods available to chimps in this region of Senegal as well as some of the dangers - he alerted his caretakers to the presence of a snake, and they swiftly left the area (with Toto, of course!).

Although we are disapointed that Toto is unable to join his wild family, we are doing our best to make sure he will be placed in an excellent sanctuary where he can live in a semi-wild state with other chimpanzees. We all think he will eventually be the alpha male of his group given his confidence and outgoing personality. 

We plan to continue our support of Toto when he has moved on to another facility, and this support is not possible without the aid we have received from donors like you. 

From all of us at Neighbor Ape and on behalf of orphan Toto, have a wonderful 2016!

Project Leader Jill Pruetz with Toto
Project Leader Jill Pruetz with Toto
Orphan chimp Toto at 3 years of age
Orphan chimp Toto at 3 years of age
Researcher Michel Sadiakho & Toto in 2012
Researcher Michel Sadiakho & Toto in 2012

Orphan Fongoli chimpanzee Toto is doing well thanks to generous donors such as yourself! He is healthy, active and still very LARGE for his age - he just celebrated his third birthday.

Toto goes out to "the bush" every day and spends most of his time there, unless it is raining steadily. He is now an expert climber and will literally play all day if someone is willing to play with him. He is very comfortable climbing trees and even alerted his caretaker to the presence of a snake one day (everyone escaped unharmed, including the snake).

We are in the process of securing a new home for Toto, but this takes time, as chimpanzees require intensive caretaking of one form or another whether they are semi-captive or semi-free-ranging in almost all cases. We have decided not to try and reintroduce Toto to his natal group given his size (he would be treated as a strange male juvenile rather than a dependant infant) and the fact that artisinal gold mining activity in the Kedougou region would put him and his group at risk from humans if he was accepted back into the Fongoli chimpanzee community.

We are talking with regional chimpanzee sanctuaries to try and secure a place for Toto but will likely need to help raise funds for additional construction of facilities at any sanctuary he may go to. Toto seems very happy but, of course, needs contact with other chimpanzees. We believe he will do well given his size and his relative fearlessness! Unlike almost all orphan chimpanzees that are lucky enough to reach a sanctuary, Toto did not experience the type of trauma associated with being torn from his mother. He was rescued by observers he knew (shown in photos here) and although he must have been traumatized by the death of his mother, he was comforted by his 4-year old sister on the day observers found him  until they finally picked him up at the end of the day, realizing no other chimpanzees were going to find him. Toto would surely die during the night. He was taken care of under the authority and guidance of Janis Carter who has run the Baboon Islands Chimpanzee Sanctuary in The Gambie for decades, with the aid of the Friends of Animals organization, so he never experienced the neglect and abuse that most orphan chimpanzees go through after being taken from their mothers and sold as pets.

We will continue to keep you updated on Toto's welfare and hope to place him by the end of this year. Thank you agaiin for all your generosity - Toto sends warm pant-hoots!

Researcher Stacy Lindshield & Toto in 2015
Researcher Stacy Lindshield & Toto in 2015

We are working on finding placement for orphan chimpanzee Toto who is now over 2 and 1/2 years old. He spends all of his days out "en brousse" (in the bush) where he plays and climbs trees. He now displays like a male chimpanzee, complete with pant hoots! 

We are currently exploring the possiblity of sending Toto to an established sanctuary, as he is too large to be considered an infant by wild chimpanzees in his natal group, and the ongoing gold rush in southeastern Senegal means that the increasing human populations could endanger Toto as well as the chimpanzee group he was born into. Since Toto was not seized by poachers but instead rescued by humans he was familiar with as observers of his social group, he has had no negative interactions with humans and, while he shows an aversion to strangers as all chimpanzees do, he is not fearful. This could be to his disadvantage since many of the gold miners in Senegal now are from countries that do not have the same taboos against eating apes that the Senegalese people do. In addition to endangering Toto, placing him in conditions where he might encounter people that would like to capture him would also endanger his fellow group members, as they would surely come to his aid.

We would like to place Toto with other chimpanzees as quickly as possible but as is the case with most chimpanzee orphanages in Africa, the ones on West Africa are full to capacity. More news to come on Toto's fate, but know that he is happy and healthy and doing well thanks to the generous donations of people like you!

Toto calendar
Toto calendar

Happy New Year greetings to all of our supporters! Toto is doing well & we are making plans for the next phase of his life. Now that Toto is over 2 years of age, he can survive on solid foods, and he is in desparate need of chimpanzee companionship. He spends most mornings out "en brousse" (out in the bush) so that he can use up a little of his amazing energy! 

We have always entertained the possibility that Toto might be returned to his natal group but given the influx of people mining for gold in the Fongoli area, the environment is too unstable for Toto. He has no reason to fear humans, and some of the gold miners come from countries where chimpanzees are not protected as they are in Senegal. If Toto were to encounter humans that wanted to capture or otherwise harm him, he is still too small to escape unaided. He would be in danger and would put the entire Fongoli chimpanzee group in danger. 

We are hoping to place Toto with other captive chimpanzees in Senegal, and this move will likely be this year. We will then work to raise funds to support Toto indefinitely. 

On the subject of fundraising, we are still selling 2015 calendars - on sale now for $10! You can find more information on our Neighbor Ape Facebook Page or send any inquiries to Neighbor Ape, 1216 Burnett, Ames, IA 50010.

Toto is rare form.
Toto is rare form.

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Organization Information

Neighbor Ape

Location: Ames, Iowa - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Jill Pruetz
Ames, Iowa United States
$10,601 raised of $15,000 goal
151 donations
$4,399 to go
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