The CCC team managed to temporarily fix the youngsters enclosure and the group can enjoy it again. But better repairs will be needed as this enclosure is 6 years old and had been seriously weakened by the fire of 2009 + the damages of this year. It is going to take some days/weeks to make a real estimate of the needs.
The youngsters’ group is composed of 14 chimpanzees. The youngest is Koumba, she is almost 3 years old now and recovered well from Fatim’s death, her surrogate mother, who sadly passed away last November. Shelly is now taking good care of her, helped by the older chimps, Wodo, Kindy and Dan.
Koumba enjoys discovering her surrounding world as long as the rest of the group is not too far! Her natural diet is already really varied as she spends most of her time in the top of trees with the others. She also participates in the group hunting parties – this group already managed to catch various small mammals including bushbabies and squirrels; they sometimes hunt genets but they rarely manage to catch them. Shelly is always around Koumba, careful that the youngest is always safe and not alone.
The oldest chimps, Oga, Kindy and Annie – Annie who finally decided to come back in her own group after spending some days with the adults (and with Zoe too… Zoe truly appreciated this new friend!) – are about 7/8 years old.
They grow up really fast, the 2 females started to cycle last year and they show now more independence from humans. During the walks, they usually give the keepers a hard time and the volunteers who go with them because they are confident enough now to go by themselves and to move away from people and the rest of their group. So the keeper and volunteer must keep a close eye on where these 3 chimps are and where they go so they can follow them with the rest of the group.
It is an important step in their rehabilitation process because it shows us that these 3 chimps are close to being ready to survive by themselves in the forest. However it will take another couple of years to give them time to totally adjust in a group with strong bonds. Chimpanzees are social animals and they need to live in a group to survive. That’s why in a couple of months, Oga, Kindy and Annie will be moved to the adult group so they can achieve this long rehabilitation process by learning the complex rules of chimpanzee society. In addition, Oga is now a young male teenager and he starts challenging human authority. In our rehabilitation process, human staffs play a key role in teaching the basics of community life’s rules to young chimpanzees. But when they grow up, it is normal than young males challenge the dominant ones and in our case, Oga has started to challenge humans. It is a normal behavior that shows us that it is time for him to be within a group of adult chimpanzees. He could then see how to behave with older chimpanzees and what the rules are!
(we do not have aged-mix groups because of the release process: we release young adults chimpanzees who have the necessary skills to survive in the wild: they must know how to feed, to nest, how to live in a group but they must also be able to know what to do if they have to face a group of wild chimpanzees and they must be strong enough to defend themselves if they have to do so… Younger chimpanzees would not be able to do so, not yet anyway)
And just for the pleasure, here is a photo of our last new born baby, Mama’s daughter!
take care! Chris