Ape Action Africa and fellow PASA sanctuary Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue have a long history of working together, and directors Rachel Hogan and Dr. Sheri Speede have been friends for 20 years now. We were delighted with our latest collaboration, bringing baby chimps Tamara and Kolbi together to form a friendship that we hope will last a lifetime.

Tamara shortly after her rescue. Image © Ape Action Africa / Alex Benitez 

In August 2020, six-month-old Tamara arrived at our sanctuary, malnourished, underweight and not as developed as a chimp her age should have been. Tamara required intense around-the-clock care and our vet team and her dedicated caregivers did an amazing job with her. Over time she put on weight, began walking and climbing and was finally able to join some young chimp friends in our forest. She made absolutely incredible progress and soon became the most confident and independent little chimp in her group.

Meanwhile, at Sanaga-Yong, fellow orphaned chimp Kolbi arrived late last year and quickly began bonding with his caregivers. Babies as young as Kolbi require human care as part of their rehabilitation, but interaction with other chimpanzees is also vital for their development. With no other babies as young as Kolbi at Sanaga-Yong, but five orphans under the age of two in our forest, Dr. Sheri and Rachel began making plans to ensure that Kolbi would have some chimpanzee company when his quarantine period was complete.

Kolbi in the forest. Image © Ape Action Africa / Jo Gaweda

The whole team here at Ape Action Africa agreed that Tamara was the obvious candidate to be transferred to Sanaga-Yong. Physically and developmentally, she’s a perfect playmate for Kolbi, and with her incredible confidence, the ease with which she forms relationships with other chimps and her adaptability, we had no doubt that she would handle the move with ease.

Last month Tamara and her caregiver Lauren made the six-hour journey to Sanaga-Yong. With Lauren to reassure her every step of the way, Tamara was curious but calm as they made their way to her new home. After settling into the forest, it was finally time for Tamara to meet Kolbi and a new chapter in their lives to begin.

The introduction could not have gone better. Both babies have confident natures and were very eager to get to know each other. Within minutes they were reaching out to one another and before the day was complete, they were hugging and playing. We are delighted that a firm friendship is building between the two and that, after the trauma of losing their mothers, these young orphans are forming a new chimpanzee family.

If you love what we do, please consider making a donation to help us care for over 280 rescued gorillas, chimps and monkeys at Ape Action Africa. The continued effects of the coronavirus crisis mean that we are facing funding challenges like never before. We need your help, so please give what you can.

Banner image © Ape Action Africa / Jo Gaweda

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