Providing sanctuary to nearly 300 primates in Mefou Park, everyone in the team at Ape Action Africa quickly learns to expect the unexpected. Our staff are used to dealing with challenges, they're resilient and hardworking, and they're extremely dedicated to our rescued gorillas, chimpanzees and monkeys. And in 2020, they proved all of this once more when faced with the changes that the coronavirus pandemic brought to the park.

Staff temperature checks. Photo courtesy of Tamara de Juana

In March last year we closed the sanctuary to visitors and volunteers, and the park went into lockdown with staff permanently living on site for many months. Health checks for the team were incorporated into our daily routine and extra safety protocols were introduced. Our staff in the forest did everything they could to ensure our primates remained safe and healthy.

Even stricter food hygiene protocols. Photo courtesy of Tamara de Juana

Closing the sanctuary to the public had, and continues to have, a huge impact on our income. We suspended our education and community projects, put construction plans on hold, and our international volunteer team were even busier than usual trying to help raise funds to cover our basic running costs.

Babunga's arrival. Photo courtesy of Alex Benitez

But thanks to our team in the forest, our international volunteers, and the generosity of supporters everyday life for our rescued apes and monkeys remained largely unchanged. They continued to receive a healthy diet, veterinary treatment when necessary and the best possible care. And of course, our doors remained open for orphans in need of a second chance and a new home. Baby chimps Tamara, Simon, Boo and Jacha, as well as guenon monkeys Mogwai, Babunga and Eboko, all found safety with us in 2020 and began to recover from the trauma of losing their families and being taken from the wild.

The coronavirus pandemic brought huge challenges to Ape Action Africa, challenges that we're still dealing with. We're extremely proud of our team and hugely grateful to our international volunteers. And we know how lucky we are to have a wonderful community of supporters who, despite the difficulties they themselves were facing, continued to donate, adopt and fundraise to help keep our orphans safe. Heartfelt thanks to you all!

Tomorrow we will be celebrating our silver jubilee! Don't forget that you can join us live in the forest on Facebook. If you'd like to help us celebrate 25 years of rescue and rehabilitation with a birthday donation, please give what you can and help secure the future of our orphaned primates.

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