Staff Spotlight: Rebeca Atencia

As executive director of the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI)-Congo, Rebeca Atencia is responsible for daily management of the Institute’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center, the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in Africa, which is located within the Tchimpounga Nature Reserve in the Republic of Congo.  In addition, Rebeca coordinates the Institute’s support of the Tchimpounga Nature Reserve and oversees JGI’s community-centered conservation and education programs in the area.

Drawing from her knowledge of veterinary medicine and captive primate care, Rebeca ensures the proper reception and treatment of chimpanzees and other species at the sanctuary.  She also coordinates the development, design and implementation of noninvasive chimpanzee research programs on site.

JGI is committed to addressing the survival of chimpanzees in the wild, but also understands the importance of caring for and protecting the chimpanzees of the illegal, commercial bushmeat trade.  JGI cares for chimpanzees orphaned by poachers at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center while supporting ecoguards that protect the wild chimpanzees in the reserve.

In addition, JGI’s community-centered conservation programs assists local people living near chimp habitat in the Republic of Congo to meet their basic needs without negatively impacting their environment.  These efforts include supporting communities’ access to adequate health care, primary school education, clean water, and sustainable livelihoods that reduce their dependency on forest resources.   Finally, the Institute’s conservation education programs increase knowledge and raise awareness about the threats facing chimpanzees, as well as the ways that humans and chimpanzees can live peacefully side by side.

Rebeca holds a veterinary degree from the Compultense University of Madrid.  Prior to joining JGI, she served as veterinarian and chief of camp for HELP-Congo. In this role, she headed HELP’s chimpanzee veterinary team and supervised noninvasive research on wild chimpanzees in the Republic of Congo. 

Rebeca has also served as chief veterinarian for the Aitana Safari Zoological Park in Alicante, Spain, as well the advisory veterinarian at Sanctuary of Primates.  Rebeca hails from Ferrols, Spain.  Rebeca is currently completing her Ph.D., advancing her knowledge of chimpanzee physiology through the study of chimpanzee cardiology.


(JGI does not endorse handling or interfering with wild chimpanzees.  The chimpanzee depicted in this image with a JGI staff person is orphaned and has been living at the Tchimpounga sanctuary.)


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