Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Unexpected Arrival

22 April 2015

Categories: Primates Campaign News

Last month our beloved Afrika surprised the team at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda by becoming a mother!

The shock arrival, the result of a contraceptive implant failure, had a rough start to life but is now stabalised and doing well. This was not a planned pregnancy.  In practice Born Free does not allow rescued animals in our permanent care to breed, so we vasectomise males and spay/give contraceptive implants to females.  We do not want to add to captive populations and sanctuary space is in short supply. We therefore aim to keep these precious spaces for animals most needing rescue.  But of course it is a priority to give the unexpected new baby the very best care we can.

Lily Ajarova, Executive Director of the Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust, which has been supported by Born Free since 1998, tells us his story:

‘At around 7:15am on the 27th of March, Paul, one of the carers saw Nagoti carrying a baby chimp under her belly with Afrika following them and screaming.  Paul called the rest of the staff and on close observation, it was realized that the baby was still alive.Our task was to devise ways of saving the baby’s life. There was anxiety among the chimps as each one of them wanted to carry the baby but Nagoti was very protective of him. Soon Nagoti lost interest and put him down.Within a second Sara had grabbed the baby and there was a brief scuffle between Sara, Yoyo, Connie and Nani each of them struggling to take away the baby and in the process the baby’s arm got broken. 

The team knew that they had to move fast and that the number of chimps around the baby had to be reduced.  A decision was made to release all the chimps into the forest area to create space to reach the baby. Meanwhile Connie too started losing interest in the baby and she put him down. In the process Afrika snatched him away and we could quickly separate Connie from the two.  

Afrika was very defensive and protective of the baby and could not allow the carers to come near her, making barking vocalisations at whoever was attempting to do so.  The baby was in obvious distress but Afrika was attempting to comfort him by carrying him at her belly, grooming but was not breast feeding him.  A decision was made to sedate Afrika and take away the baby for medical attention and to confirm that Africa was indeed the mother.

The baby’s health has now stabilized. He is eating well and is more aware of his surroundings. He still can’t be given back to his mother because his arm is in a cast, but the team is monitoring him and as soon as possible, they will return him to Afrika’s care’.


Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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