Mr. Joseph Tume, better known as Big Joe around the sanctuary, is one of the longest-serving members of our fabulous team of caregivers. Big Joe joined Ape Action Africa in August 1996 and has dedicated the last 24 years of his working life to the care of our rescued chimpanzees, gorillas and monkeys. 

When Big Joe came to the forest, he initially worked in the area of our park called Mbeme, an area more than a kilometre away from the main part of the sanctuary. There he played an important role in the rehabilitation of Bertie and Ashmael, two chimpanzees who arrived at Ape Action Africa after years spent in a cage in a zoo. Sadly we lost Ashmael earlier this year, but she remains in the hearts of the team, and Big Joe is particularly proud of this brave and gentle chimp. 

Ashmael. Image © Ape Action Africa / Ian Bickerstaff

For the last ten years or so, Big Joe has been working with the younger chimps and gorillas in our nursery section, where he provides care for our rescued orphans and helps our volunteers learn about sanctuary life - about the individuals who have found safety in our forest and about all of the hard work involved in their care. In quiet moments, he's always ready for a friendly chat, happily teaching our international volunteers about Cameroon and even helping some of them to learn a bit of the local language.

After 23 years at Ape Action Africa, Big Joe says his favourite part of the job is simply observing the animals, and we feel very lucky to have such a committed caregiver to help our orphans through their rehabilitation. Here's to many more years of having Big Joe on our team!


Images of Big Joe © Ape Action Africa / Tamara de Juana

If you're able to support our work, please consider setting up a small monthly donation. Just £3 can provide a day's milk for one of the infant chimps in Big Joe's care. With the sanctuary still closed to visitors and volunteers, we're more reliant on your compassion than ever before. Many thanks to everyone who has already given so generously.

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