Help Feed over 150 Orphaned Chimpanzees

by Jane Goodall Institute
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Mambou
Mambou
In recent months, the caregivers of Tchimpounga have watched Mambou try to consolidate his position as the leader of Group Four. 

Mambou may not be the strongest male group, but his personality is that of a leader’s. JGI’s team is confident that in a few years Mambou will become a dominant alpha male. 

As with children, one can get a sense of a future adult chimpanzees’ personality by observing that chimpanzees personality as a youngster. Some are submissive, some dominant, some are gregarious, some are misunderstood, and others, like Mambou, are leaders.

Gradually Mambou and other chimps are getting a group together to support him in his future leadership bid. Antonio and Sam have now joined the clan. They are all forming a select group of males who will dominate the group within a few years. Now it seems like a game, but gradually everything will be taken much more seriously.

A group of chimpanzees requires that the hierarchy is well organized, as it is in human society. A successful group needs a leader who is bright, intelligent and knows how to  make the right decisions in difficult or dangerous situations. Mambou seems to possess these leadership qualities.

At the moment Mambou is content to stroll through his group’s enclosure with slightly bristled hair, performing regular displays and reminding other chimpanzees with a kick or shove who the leader is!
Lemba at Tchimpounga
Lemba at Tchimpounga

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.

Falero
Falero


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.

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Ngoro Resting in Her Enclosure
Ngoro Resting in Her Enclosure

Ngoro was rescued and brought to Tchimpounga in 2005. She was confiscated by the wildlife authorities in Pointe Noire. Like many rescued chimpanzees brought to Tchimpounga, Ngoro was very thin and depressed. She sat hugging herself and was barely able to move. The staff worked very hard to rehabilitate her, not only physically, but also psychologically. Once she had recovered enough, she was integrated with the four other chimpanzees that had arrived that year. After which, they were integrated into larger social group of chimpanzees of similar age.


Ngoro has also struggled with health problems. She would usually be the first to get sick in her chimpanzee group, and never really put on weight like the others. After many tests, she was found to have gastric ulcers. The origin of the ulcers is unknown –they could be due to her poor health before being rescued, or not being able to handle the stress of a big social group. Regardless, the Tchimpounga team decided she needed to live with a smaller social group, one where she could manage her stress as best as possible, while still having the company of other chimpanzees.


The first move was to put her with Podive, another chimpanzee who has special health issues and has to be separated from the larger social groups. At night time, Podive and Ngoro were neighbours with chimpanzees named La Vielle and Lemba, and some of the other younger chimpanzees. As smart as they are, many chimpanzees are escape artists and manage to jump from one enclosure to another; despite all attempts to prevent them from doing so. Ngoro, is one of those chimpanzees who likes to do so, and often got herself into the same enclosure as La Vielle and Lemba. She loved the time she had with the younger chimpanzees, and especially her time with Lemba.


Ngoro is also a very empathetic chimpanzee, one who has been very caring of others. Another one of her neighbours was Lounama, who has a heart condition. As such a caring chimpanzee, Ngoro would often share her food through the mesh to Lounama. While this was a lovely gesture, unfortunately it could not be allowed to continue, because Lounama needs to remain on a very strict diet due to her heart condition. So, the team decided it was better to let Ngoro go and live with La Vieille and Lemba. This would allow her to continue being the caring and social chimpanzee that she is, without putting Lounama at risk. This has been a great treat for both Ngoro and Lemba, who have become very close over the last few months

Ngoro and Lemba Spend Time Together
Ngoro and Lemba Spend Time Together
Ngoro
Ngoro

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Jeje
Jeje

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.

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Jane Goodall Institute

Location: Vienna, Virginia - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.janegoodall.org
Project Leader:
Brittany Cohen-Brown
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Vienna, Virginia United States

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