In 1998 Max, aged 4, and Suzanne, aged 1, were both confiscated and brought into the care of Ape Action Africa. The two young chimpanzees, like all the orphans in our care, shared a similar story. Both had seen their families killed. Both had been taken from the wild. But like all the rescued primates at Ape Action Africa, they were given a second chance at life in the forest with other members of their own species. They grew up in the safety of our sanctuary and were able to build bonds with other chimps, helping them to recover from the trauma they suffered as infants. Max became the alpha male of his own group and Suzanne a high-ranking female.

Max takes a rest from his alpha male duties

One thing that makes these two chimps different from the vast majority of our primates is that their sanctuary family includes biological daughter Hope. We have a non-breeding policy because we have a responsibility to use our limited resources to rescue and care for orphans of the bushmeat trade and victims of the illegal wildlife trade. Our females are given contraceptive implants, but just like in humans contraception sometimes fails. And in 2014, we welcomed baby Hope to our forest family.

Suzanne and baby Hope. Image courtesy of Lucy Radford.

Despite having lost her own mother at a very young age, Suzanne proved to be an excellent mom. Hope is lucky enough to be growing up in a safe and caring family, and she will never experience the trauma that her parents and her doting adoptive aunties went through. She is loved by all and it's wonderful to see her developing and learning from the other members of her group. Now 7 years old, she's slowly becoming more independent but still has an extremely close relationship with Suzanne.

Hope is growing up.

While we take great joy in seeing Hope with her family, she's also a reminder of what almost every other chimpanzee, gorilla and monkey in our sanctuary lost. For every infant who finds safety with us, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and more have been killed in the wild. Thank you to all of our loyal Ape Action Africa allies over the last 25 years who have helped us to give these orphans a second chance at family life and who have supported our education and conservation efforts to protect primates in the wild. We couldn't do what we do without you and we're extremely grateful that you are standing with us as we head towards our silver jubilee celebrations next month.

Please select a donation amount (required)
Set up a regular payment Donate