In 2005, deep in the Dja Reserve in South Eastern Cameroon, researchers stumbled across a sad and puzzling scene. A tiny two-week-old male gorilla lay next to his mother. She was dead, but showed no obvious signs of trauma.
Fearing serious disease, the researchers contacted us for help, but by the time our team arrived the baby had been alone for more than 2 days. Miraculously he had survived, but we discovered two dead adult chimps nearby. A necropsy later revealed anthrax as the cause of death – contracted from the forest soil.
Still at serious risk, the baby was transferred to an isolation facility under the care of Bruno Djakou - our fantastic senior gorilla caregiver at the time. Bruno named the baby Yeba, which means ‘universe’ in his dialect. It was a particularly meaningful name, as the two remained alone in quarantine together, becoming each other’s entire world.
Yeba in 2006.
Yeba never developed anthrax and eventually joined 13 other gorillas at Mefou Sanctuary where his cheeky, fun-loving personality was revealed. As he grew and reached maturity, he naturally began to challenge silverback Nkan Daniel for dominance in the group. Now Yeba has been moved to our newest and largest gorilla enclosure, where we are in the process of forming a bachelor gorilla group.
Yeba is a stunningly strong and handsome silverback today and is protective of his new home. But he still retains his playful character, particularly when visited by our Director, Rachel or Controller, Mr Appolinaire as they do their rounds of the sanctuary.
As we look back on our 25-year history, we are reminded of how lucky we are to have such amazingly committed caregivers who are willing to make huge sacrifices when necessary in order to provide our orphans with the care they need. A heartfelt thank you to Bruno and all of our other staff members, past and present, for your dedication and hard work.
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