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