Are there any funny / interesting stories from the last month?
In the outdoor enclosure of Group 4 there are several wooden structures that were built for the chimpanzees to enjoy moving at different levels and getting shade. However, some individuals of this group do not seem to understand this advantage and devote great efforts to destroying them with their growing strength. The structures are made of eucalyptus trees, which some chimpanzees take apart by using other pieces of wood as levers.
Are there any new integrations or additions to the groups?
Mosengo, Kouilou, Sangha and Betou, the four chimpanzees that were transferred to Tchimpounga from the Brazzaville zoo, have finished the first part of their long process of adaptation to their new home, after spending a quarantine longer than expected due to health issues. This month finally came the time to introduce them into chimp society, and they were integrated into Group 4, where there are other ChimpGuardian chimps such as Kauka, Luc and Kudia. Although these moments are always tense and the newcomers receive shoves and punches from the hosts, everything went relatively smoothly thanks to the protection of the caregivers and some older females in the group.
Are there any “Fun Facts” that you would like to share?
The chimpanzee rehabilitation centre is in the middle of a Natural Reserve of the same name: Tchimpounga. This protected area is the smallest one in the Republic of Congo, with some seven thousand hectares. However, it is of great interest in terms of its flora and fauna. Its ecosystem is made up of a mosaic of savannahs and thick forests, where many animal species live, like civets, jackals, monkeys, antelopes, snakes, chimpanzees and a wide variety of birds and insects. Much of the Tchimpounga Reserve can be seen from the chimpanzee rehabilitation centre, as it is located on a hill above the savannah. This area is protected by 16 ecoguards funded by the Jane Goodall Institute.
Specific Chimp Updates:
This month Kudia welcomed into her group four young chimpanzees: Kouilou, Mosengo, Sangha and Betou. These four brave individuals have been strongly united since they were in Brazzaville zoo together and were then transferred to Tchimpounga. This bond has served to help them in their integration into the new group, as they acted as a team to defend themselves against all the blows, pushes and bites from the larger hosts. As always with this type of integration, many chimpanzees seemed reluctant to accept the new arrivals, so their caregivers tried to keep the atmosphere calm by sharing out food, distracting the attention of the original group members and preventing them from concentrating just on beating up the new arrivals. This is where Kudia comes into the story. As you already know, Kudia is a chimpanzee with a voracious appetite; this is how she got her name, Kudia, which means “eat” in the local language Munukutuba. When the carers started to share out fruit and popcorn, Kudia completely forgot about Kouilou, Mosengo, Sangha and Betou, and concentrated on eating as much popcorn as possible. Some animals hit the newcomers to reaffirm their place in the hierarchy, but Kudia carried on eating like crazy. The caregivers laughed when they saw her eating the popcorn so fast that it hardly fit in her mouth. At one point she was choking, and when she coughed, all the popcorn flew out. Kudia rushed to pick them up again, at the same speed as usual when food is concerned.
Kudia continues to prefer playing with Kauka, although she interacts with practically all the chimpanzees in her group without problems.
This month Kauka got very angry with Likabou, a juvenile female of his group who is bigger than the infant ones. Likabou took advantage of her strength and in a fight for a banana she got very angry with Simba, a small female who is Kauka´s friend. Likabou´s aggression caused a serious injury in one of Simba´s eyelids, which produced bleeding and severe swelling. Simba has been living with Kauka since she was very young and they are good friends. Kauka got very angry with Likabou and, even though he is much smaller than her, he pushed her twice and gave her a few kicks. Likabou turned against Kauka ready to fight back, but Kauka´s shouting made other bigger friends came to help. Finally a big fight broke out between Likabou´s friends and Kauka´s. Little Singa was bleeding and screaming in agony. This alerted Tchimpounga´s caretakers who ran immediately to see what was happening. They entered in the enclosure very quickly and separated Simba from the rest of the group, which eased the tensions and all the chimps eventually calmed down. In this situation Kauka had shown his great courage and his capacity to protect his friends.
Luc lives in the same group as Kauka and Kudia. This month the news is Sangha, Kouilou, Mosengo and Betou´s integration into Luc´s group. All the chimps were very excited and ran to meet the new arrivals. On the other side, alone as usual, was Luc, observing how the other chimps behave with the new ones. Luc is an observer of life. He doesn’t want to get into trouble and he doesn’t like others causing him trouble either. He prefers to stay alone and play from time to time with the other 3 or 4 chimps that he trusts a little bit.
The caretakers try to make Luc behave in a more natural way and they try to prevent him from staying with them all the time. Serge, one of Tchimpounga´s caretaker who knows this chimp’s behaviour very well, usually grabs Luc by the hand after caressing him a bit and takes him far away from the caretakers, to leave him close to the other chimps. When Serge lets go of Luc’s hand, Luc turns around and goes back to the caretaker. Serge tries it again but without any luck. Luc doesn’t want to know anything about the social life of his group and he continues spending his days close to the caretakers. Poor Luc! He still needs a lot of time until he feels really at home with the other chimps.
Kauka: Second from the right