In 2009 in neighbouring Equatorial Guinea, staff working for US oil company Hess got the surprise of their lives when an adult chimp jumped the fence and joined them in their compound. They learned that she had a long history as a pet, first with a restaurant owner who fed her beer and cigarettes to entertain his customers, then an expat businessman who kept her in his home. When she grew to maturity and became frustrated and destructive he set her free in the bush, ignorant of the danger he was placing her in. Thankfully Billie Jean had strong supporters at Hess, who worked hard to organise her transfer to our sanctuary, even funding a private flight to transport her to Cameroon.
   
Billie Jean when she first arrived at Ape Action Africa. 
   
When Billie Jean first arrived at our sanctuary, she was friendly and curious and very attached to her caregivers after living most of her life with humans. She completed her quarantine period near three adolescent male chimps – Tommy, Jakub & Evonu - who later joined her in being introduced to a large group of youngsters. It took time for Billie Jean to adjust to life without humans, but she happily settled into Tommy's group and began to build bonds with fellow chimpanzees, no longer relying on humans for comfort or company. She enjoys spending time grooming and resting in the highest trees and is loved by everyone for her calm and gentle nature. But she's also high ranking and can certainly hold her own amongst the group's domineering males.
   
Billie Jean in the forest enclosure of Tommy's group
   
Chimpanzees are complex, social, wild animals and like all primates, should never be pets, should never be handled by members of the general public and should never be used as any form of entertainment. These highly intelligent individuals deserve respect and to be safe in the wild where they belong.
   
Thank you so much to Hess for being instrumental in Billie Jean's rescue and for helping to give her a second chance at life in the forest with other members of her own species. Many thanks also to all of our Ape Action Africa allies who help us to raise awareness and to care for over 280 rescued primates. We are hugely grateful for all of the help that you've given over the last 25 years and greatly appreciate your continued support.
   
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