Work is underway on the first of the three islands that will become the new long-term sanctuary site for the Tchimpounga chimpanzees.
This week, JeJe began wanting to eat solid foods. His stomach is ready for fruits and vegetables, so every day the caregivers at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga sanctuary offer him a broad selection of treats. They give him small bites little by little to see what he likes.
Over the past six months, Tchimpounga has received six more orphaned infants. As a result, each caregiver is taking care of three or more chimpanzees, which is overwhelming to say the least.
Lemba, a young chimpanzee whose legs are paralyzed from polio, acts as the adoptive mother. Unlike the caregivers who have 24-hour responsibilities, Lemba’s duties only require that she play with the babies and keep an eye on them during the day.
As our 4WD trudges along the last stretch of road into the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Centre, one hour north of Pointe Noire in the Republic of Congo (Congo), it is the sound of hooting chimpanzees that first announces our arrival. The centre is situated on a hilltop, overlooking a patchwork of forest and swampy plains, just a few kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean. As with most visitors to the sanctuary, it took me a couple of weeks to begin to understand the complexity and dedication required to care for and rehabilitate chimpanzees.
During Glitter’s first week with her new baby (born May 30, 2012), she was quite elusive, hiding with her newborn and avoiding encounters with other chimps, particularly her mother, Gremlin. It normally takes time before a female chimpanzee fully introduces her baby into community life. Glitter, however, was nervous and unwilling to trust other chimps, seemingly an effect of having lost her first baby to her mother. Now that she is getting more comfortable with her mother and the other chimps, we have been enjoying the newest addition to the G-Family. The baby