Just like with people, you can gain insight into a chimpanzee’s mood or intentions by looking into his or her eyes. Lemba´s eyes are tender, warm and a little sad. This young chimpanzee’s face reflects the many tragedies she’s endured during her short life. First, she lost her mother who was shot by a poacher. Then, after coming to Tchimpounga, she contracted polio during a regional outbreak. As a result, her legs are paralyzed. Needless to say, these two events deeply impacted this charismatic chimpanzee.
In April 2012, the staff at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of Congo welcomed a new arrival: a baby girl called Anzac. She was named Anzac because she came to the sanctuary on ANZAC Day (April 25, 2012), a World War I observance for people from Australia and New Zealand, and because, like many war veterans, she had lost an arm.
Dunez’s companions, Lemba, D’Joni and Wounda, spend hours playing and laughing. Of the three, Dunez is the best at moving through the trees. D’Joni tries to follow her, but he is not as coordinated, so he doesn’t move as quickly. Dunez is probably more skilled because she arrived at Tchimpounga at age three. As a result, she likely spent more time in the forest with her mother. Dunez constantly amazes the Tchimpounga caregivers with her enormous jumps.
Antonio is under the watchful eye of Noel, one of Tchimpounga’s dedicated caregivers. Noel and Antonio even sleep together because baby chimpanzees, like human infants, need the warmth and protection of an adult during the night.
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.
Each morning, Wounda receives a liter of milk. This is just one of several treatments she receives due to a recent illness. Young Lemba watches in anticipation until the caregivers produce a bottle for her. For Lemba, milk is a special treat, so the mornings are her favorite part of the day.
In late May, authorities confiscated an 18-month-old male named “Zola” in Imphondo, which is a town found in the north of Congo. Imphondo is located along the Ubangui River, which flows into the Congo.
Little Anzac, a recent arrival at Tchimpounga, is one of the many victims of the illegal commercial bushmeat trade. Congolese authorities confiscated her from a poacher before turning her over to the caregivers at the Jane Goodall Institute’s sanctuary.
In the mornings, Anzac loves to make grass angels, similar to the snow angels many human children make during the winter months. She lies on her back, flapping her arms about and enjoying the feel of the dew-covered ground.
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.