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.
D’Joni (pronounced “Johnny”) plays all day long with his friends Lemba and Dunez. There is a very close friendship between the three youngsters. When Dunez tries to bully D’Joni, Lemba acts like a protective mother. D’Joni is well aware of this, so he often provokes Dunez with a push and then runs to Lemba for safety.
Since the 2008 pilot release of six Tchimpounga mandrills, the JGI team has been working hard to integrate eight more individuals to form another group to release into the wild. Madrills are rare primates found in only four African countries. Reintroducing any wild animal into the forest is a serious undertaking, but the process is somewhat easier with mandrills than with chimpanzees. The current plan is to reintroduce the next mandrill group in September.
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.
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.