Sierra Leone Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Programme
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The Chimps of Tacugama

The Chimps



All of us are orphans.

Our mothers were killed
and sold as bush-meat.
We were captured and sold as pets.
Each one of us has our own heartbreaking story.

Fortunately, we were rescued
and given a second chance
at the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

Like humans, a happy childhood defines a healthy mental and physical adulthood.
The fact of losing our mothers and relatives was the start of our struggle for survival.

Many of the orphan chimpanzees
don’t cope well in captivity,
and die of depression, disease
or malnutrition soon after being captured.

Just think that for each one of us that reaches Tacugama an average of 8 chimpanzees have died along the way.

The ones that do survive, live in terror
and anxiety in the hands
of humans that do not know
anything about our needs.

We are very cute when we are young.
We like to play, laugh, hug, kiss and
we are in need of loads of love
like human children.
But when we grow older,
we become too strong to be handled and
we are either shot dead or left isolated in small cages or chained by our necks.

When you visit Tacugama, you will see that we have been given a chance to form and live in a family group
in a semi-wild environment.
We are highly social primates and
we need to live with our kith and kin.

Family means ALL to us.

We need to be in close contact to our mothers, fathers, siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins.

In the wild, we live in large families and
the bonds between the members
of each family are forever.
Here at Tacugama, we have been granted
the opportunity to have a foster family.
We are not direct relatives,
at least not that we are aware of,
but we are now as tight as a normal chimpanzee family in the wild could be.

Don’t assume for one minute that
to achieve this situation has been easy.

Chimpanzees are very territorial.
Normally the family members will attack
and sometimes kill unknown chimps.
In our case, we were all
strangers to each other.
That means we had to learn to accept each other and define our social status within the group.

Bruno was the original alpha male,
as humans like to call him.
Tacugama wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for him.
Bruno was the first one to be rescued by
Bala & family when he was less than a year old.
Bruno has since left the Sanctuary.
We all pay respect to him.
He kept within our group.
He knew everyone and noticed everything.
Nothing escaped his attention.
He would protect the weak and
keep in line the disobedient.

Second in rank is Philip.
He has a tough time.
Being second is never easy.

Then there are Charlie boy, Christo,
Tito, Jojo, Ole...
Everyone has his own rank and
plays his own role within the group.

As for the females, the eldest and
more revered one is Julie.
She happened to be the second
chimpanzee rescued by Mr. Bala.

She and Bruno lived together for several years
before others progressively joined them.
Julie has been mother to almost all of us.
She has filled us with her love,
the gap left by our murdered mothers.

In 2002, she gave birth to her son, Jumu.
Not only has she been an excellent mother
to him, but she still professes care and
love to the rest of the family.
She has always a spare hug, kiss or
embrace for those in need of reassurance.
Of course, Jumu has become the favourite
of all the uncles, aunts and cousins.
He is playful and brave, for that
he has Julie’s constant protection.

If you want to know more about each
and every one of us, you can read about some of us from our webpages on the left or come visit us in Sierra Leone.


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Chimpanzee Facts

Chimp Facts

Communication: because chimps live in complex family
groups, they use a wide range of auditory, visual
and tactile signals adapted both for distant and close
communication. Chimpanzees have been called the noisiest of all African animals! With loud calls, they can
wander far within their territory and still stay in
contact with community members.

More Facts

Last Updated: January 16, 2008 at 16:20 EST