Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center
It’s been 20 years since the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center (TCRC) opened in the Republic of Congo. Dr. Jane Goodall founded the sanctuary to provide care and hope to the chimpanzee victims of the illegal commercial bushmeat and pet trades. Today, many of the chimpanzee residents are adults who need to explore and expand their horizons beyond the boundaries of the existing facility. Recognizing this need, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) put a great deal of effort into creating a more natural environment for the Tchimpounga chimpanzees.
Note: This video includes graphic images.
Meet Motambo, the newest arrival at the Jane Goodall Institute's Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of Congo. When Motambo first arrived, it was clear from his symptoms that he had a severe case of tetanus, most likely from a laceration on his arm from a wire snare. With close medical attention and care from JGI's staff at Tchimpounga, Motambo is on the mend and healing.
Chimpanzees like Moboulou demonstrate many human-like behaviors. Like us, rules govern chimpanzee societies and there are standards that all individuals must respect and adhere to in order to maintain harmony and stability in the community. The first rule is that there is a single alpha male in each community who must be obeyed. Moboulou represents this social figure in his community and he plays the part very well. Moboulou is not overly violent or authoritarian. Instead, he uses his strong character and diplomacy to mitigate and resolve conflicts.
Watch as the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) team from the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of Congo moves the first group of female chimpanzees to Tchindzoulou, a nearby river island they will now call home. On the island, the chimpanzees will enjoy more freedom than they've ever had, while still receiving the same level of care from JGI's staff.
Several members of the Tchimpounga staff are deeply involved in caring for the infant and younger chimpanzees. The babies, Zola, JeJe and Anzac were with Antonette for a few days but now, Angel has taken over their care. Before working at Tchimpounga, Angel worked in neonatal care in a hospital and has a special gift of finding veins on young and very sick individuals. This skill has saved a number of the chimps at Tchimpounga, because Angel has been able to get a vein to give lifesaving medication and fluids when no one else was able to do it.
This post is the first of a two-part story about the development of three islands in the Kouilou River as part of the expansion of JGI's Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of Congo.
Zola is recovering gradually from a serious respiratory infection. Thanks to the attention of his caregiver Antonette and the supervision of the veterinary team at Tchimpounga, each day Zola is getting better and better.
It is currently the dry session in Congo. At this time of year the sky is almost always overcast and the temperature, especially at night, drops. The added humidity makes the nights unpleasant. Young chimpanzees such as JeJe, are still very small and dependent. For him, it is absolutely necessary to be embraced by a warm body and to hear a heartbeat. Therefore at Tchimpounga, chimpanzee orphans of this age are never alone and always spend the night with a caregiver. While these baby chimpanzees sleep, they sometimes have nightmares, gas in their belly, feel cold or appear restless.
D’Joni is growing rapidly. His arms and legs are now strong and robust, allowing him to feel more confident and secure, which will help him become independent. D’Joni is no longer a baby, but he still really likes bottles of milk each day. Early each morning, Tchimpounga caregivers heat the milk in a saucepan so the younger chimpanzees at the sanctuary can wake up to a comforting breakfast. Although the caregivers hold the milk bottles for the small chimpanzees, D’Joni prefers to hold the bottle himself to show that he is self-sufficient and very grown up.
It was Saturday night in Tchimpounga. Zola was sleeping with his caregiver, Antonette because the small babies cannot spend the night alone without their adoptive mother. Suddenly Antonette became concerned about the way Zola was breathing. She called out with a worried voice at three in the morning to alert the veterinary team. It was an urgent case. Enough air wasn´t reaching Zola´s lungs and his nose was congested with mucus. The veterinary staff quickly put an oxygen mask onto his face. The night was very long and tiring for everyone.