Supporting ape rescue on World Chimpanzee Day

14 July 2022


Born Free chats to Laura Praill, Fundraising and Communications Manager at Limbe Wildlife Centre, in Cameroon.

A baby chimp being cared for by a sanctuary vet, sitting surrounded by leaves

Laura Praill

Limbe Wildlife Centre (LWC) is a highly respected sanctuary in Cameroon, for orphan chimpanzees, gorillas and other threatened wildlife, with extensive local outreach and education programmes, supported by Born Free since 2004. They provide expert, lifetime loving care for rescued chimpanzees. Today, on World Chimpanzee Day, we find out a little more about LWC’s remarkable work for wildlife. 

How many chimpanzees and gorillas do you currently care for?

As of Feb 2022, when we did our last stock, the centre has 39 chimpanzees and 14 gorillas.

What proportion come from the illegal pet trade?

Most of our apes were rescued from the wildlife trade, except for a small number born here due to faulty contraceptive implants. Currently, we have one chimpanzee and two gorillas that were born at the centre.

Do these different apes need different care from one another?

Our great apes have very similar feeding and cleaning protocols in place. Gorillas and chimpanzees are fed twice a day with a variety of fruits and vegetables in the morning and afternoon, and once with slow-release sugar and protein sources at noon. They follow a strict feeding system ensuring a diverse diet and good distribution within the social group.

Browse is provided once or twice daily, consisting of wild plants sustainably harvested by ex-hunters and of crop by-products cultivated by women both from the local community working in partnership with the LWC. Additional plants are also harvested by caretakers to ensure sufficient amounts of browse to stimulate foraging behaviour, ensure a balanced diet, reduce boredom and increase activity rate; contributing to reduced tensions within each group.

What kinds of enrichment do you offer your apes?

We provide a variety of different activities to encourage natural foraging behaviours. Both apes receive enrichment such as natural browse, scatter feeds, ice blocks, feeding logs and bamboo, honey leaves and foraging troughs.

How does Born Free help support your work?

Born Free generously supports the Limbe Wildlife Centre. With the funds provided through the Born Free Foundation Grant, we are able to take care of Chinoise, who was seized from the illegal pet trade. Born Free also pays for the salaries of Chinoise’s carers. Born Free has also helped us to improve and maintain the enclosures of many of our species, increasing overall animal welfare at LWC. Born Free also supported the LWC as they adapted protocols in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the safety of the staff and animals being of paramount importance.

How is our adopted chimpanzee Chinoise doing at the moment?

Chinoise is now part of our mainland group of chimpanzees (14 total) after a successful introduction following her move from the nursery. She is very cheeky and likes to play with the other chimpanzees when they are in the mood! Chinoise continues to increase the cohesion of the group and maintains a high level of play activities. Her body condition remains good and she is developing into a strong adult female.