If you’ve got a copy of our 2021 Silver Jubilee calendar, you’ll know that western lowland gorillas Chickaboo and Luci are our stars for March. The two girls were brought to Ape Action Africa within days of each other back in October 2011.

Images © LAGA and Ape Action Africa

Chickaboo, then approximately two years old, was the first of the two to find safety at our sanctuary. With an infected wound on her wrist from where she had been caught in a forest snare, she also had a pot belly and was suffering from bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea. Just three days later, 11-month-old Luci joined Chickaboo and her then caregiver, our Director Rachel Hogan. Luci was rescued from a village after her family had been killed for bushmeat and though she was generally physically in good health, she was, like all of our orphans, traumatised by her ordeal.

Shocked, scared and in a lot of pain due to her wound, Chickaboo was very quiet during her first few weeks with Rachel. She didn’t vocalise and wouldn’t let anyone touch her. But as her injury started to heal, her personality began to shine through and she began to approach her caregiver - first putting a hand on Rachel’s lap, then a hand and a foot, and finally climbing onto Rachel to receive some affection.

Rachel and Chickaboo went on to develop a very close bond as her recovery continued. The young gorilla was initially not very impressed to have Luci around and often showed signs of jealousy. But with her lively and playful nature this was something that didn't really deter Luci. She was unusually independent for her age, likely a sad consequence of having lost her family so young. Over time the two girls began to play together and build a relationship. 

Chickaboo and Luci in the forest in 2014. Images © Ape Action Africa / Susan Eberth

When they began daily trips to the forest, Chickaboo’s confidence in her natural habitat was clear and showed that she had learned a number of skills from her family before they were killed. Luci was far more reserved in the forest but, with Chickaboo to lead the way, she soon also began exploring and the two became inseparable.

As the young gorillas grew up, we began construction of our juvenile gorilla enclosure, and Chickaboo and Luci were its first inhabitants, later being joined by Chris, then Parry and Doumassi. With a strong personality and a considerable size advantage, Chickaboo was always the most dominant of this group, and it’s amazing to see how far she’s come since her rescue. Luci submitted to Chickaboo for many years, but as she matured she gained the confidence to sometimes challenge her friend. Despite their occasional differences, the two have remained close and retained their playful natures.

Having outgrown their home, Chickaboo and Luci, along with Parry, have been temporarily moved while waiting for the construction of a new gorilla enclosure. We look forward to sharing the next chapter in their stories when the build is complete.


Growing up fast. Images © Ape Action Africa / Jo Gaweda

If you can, please help us to keep Chickaboo, Luci and over 280 rescued primates safe in 2021 by donating what you can. Every single gift makes a difference at this very challenging time.

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Banner image © Ape Action Africa / Susan Eberth