When David arrived at Ape Action Africa, he displayed very few natural chimpanzee behaviours. We're so proud of the progress he has made and delighted that the social skills he has learned have helped him to successfully move on from pre-nursery to join Song's group.

Before David's rescue, almost exactly five years ago, he'd been kept alone in a cage and on display to 'entertain' guests at a hotel. Estimated to be between two and three years old at the time, he was malnourished, losing his hair and showed abnormal behaviours due to the stress that he had endured.

David on arrival in 2015. Image © Ape Action Africa

Our expert team worked hard to settle David into the sanctuary and, after his quarantine period, they gradually introduced him to the young orphans in our pre-nursery group. This was a challenging transition for David; the social isolation that he'd suffered meant that he hadn't learned how to interact with other chimps. However, over time David's confidence increased, he built friendships with the other orphans, and he became one of the most playful chimpanzees in the group.  

David playing with younger orphan Lomié in 2019. Video © Ape Action Africa / Alex Benitez

Last year we decided that David, along with Cazza and Twinkle, was big enough and confident enough to move on from pre-nursery and to be introduced into his new family group, led by alpha male Song. David did a fantastic job of reacquainting himself with old friends like Mac and Mbia,  who were still in the pre-nursery group when David arrived at Ape Action Africa. He also demonstrated great confidence when meeting some of the high-ranking individuals, including alpha female Vicky. Naturally, alpha male Song demonstrated his strength and dominance to the new male, but other members of the group were quick to show David their support. David's relationship with Song is building slowly, but the two are still keeping a watchful eye on each other. This is only to be expected, and we're delighted with the success of the integration. It's an absolute pleasure to see David, who was once so shy and unsure of himself, happily settled into his new group. 

David is now comfortably settled in his new group. Image © Ape Action Africa / Lucía Jorge 

With much of the world in lockdown, it is perhaps a particularly apt time to reflect on how important social interaction is in our lives and in the lives of so many other species. Chimpanzees are highly social animals, and depriving them of interaction with members of their own species causes psychological damage and abnormal behaviour. Primates are wild animals, but sadly it's all too easy to find viral videos and images of apes and monkeys being kept as pets. If you haven't done so already, please sign the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance's petition demanding that social media sites provide a clear way to report posts featuring wild animals as pets and that they remove such content from their sites.    

Our work rehabilitating the victims of the illegal pet trade and the bushmeat trade has to continue through the coronavirus crisis, and we're making every possible effort to ensure the safety of our rescued apes and monkeys. Thank you for following and sharing our stories, and for your continued support during these very challenging times. Stay safe everyone.  

Banner image © Ape Action Africa / Lucía Jorge

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