When David was rescued in 2015, he was malnourished, losing his hair and underweight. He was so thin that it was hard to judge his age, but he was probably around 2 years old. The young chimpanzee was saved from life alone in a cage and on display to 'entertain' guests at a hotel.

David was extremely thin and very sad when he arrived at AAA

David had seen his family killed and had been taken from the wild at a young age, and then been maltreated and isolated from other chimpanzees for some time. The suffering and stress that he had experienced had led to abnormal behaviour and David could often be seen sitting and rocking from side to side.

Our team worked hard to settle David into the sanctuary, giving him lots of healthy food to help him build up his weight and strength, along with lots of expert care to help him gradually get used to company and start to overcome the emotional and psychological suffering he had endured. He was a shy little chimp and very unsure of himself, but as his recovery began, he would play with his caregivers and slowly his personality began to shine through.

David begins to play with his caregivers

After his quarantine period he was introduced to the young orphans in our pre-nursery group. This was a challenging transition for David because the social isolation that he’d suffered meant that he hadn’t learned how to interact with other chimpanzees. However, David's confidence gradually increased, he built friendships with the other orphans, and he became one of the most playful chimpanzees in the group. He began to show more and more natural chimp behaviours, learned important social skills and spent less and less time rocking. In later years, when other orphans joined the group, David was always very welcoming and eager to get to know new playmates.

David plays with Daphne as she is introduced to the group in 2017. Photo courtesy of Mathilde Malapert

In 2019 we decided that David, along with friends Cazza and Twinkle, was big enough and confident enough to move on from pre-nursery and to be introduced into his new forever 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 and he has now managed to build a good relationship with Song.

The handsome chimp David has become. Photo courtesy of Lucia Jorge

We're so proud of the progress that David has made since his arrival 6 years ago. Chimpanzees are highly social animals, and depriving them of interaction with members of their own species causes psychological damage and leads to abnormal behaviour. Primates are not pets. Primates are not entertainment. Primates are not photo props.

Many thanks to all of our allies who help us to spread our message, and whose support helps us to rehabilitate rescued orphans like David and provide them with a second chance at life in the forest with members of their own species. Your compassion and generosity really do make a difference to the lives of our rescued chimpanzees, gorillas and monkeys.

Banner image (David grooming Little Larry) courtesy of Larry Taylor
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