Together, let’s celebrate chimpanzees

14 July 2023


With you by our side, Born Free is devoted to the care and conservation of these remarkable apes. Rescue & Care Officer Dr Andrea Donaldson reports.

A photo of two chimpanzees sitting on a wooden platform, surrounded by trees and vegetation

Today is World Chimpanzee Day and an opportunity to celebrate our closest living relative in the animal kingdom. The special day aims to improve understanding of this social, intelligent species by educating global audiences about their uniqueness and innate value, as well as their importance to ecosystems. The day also raises awareness and inspires action to combat the threats chimpanzees face in the wild – including habitat loss, disease and wildlife trafficking, and advocate for their welfare in captive situations.

Born Free has a long history of supporting projects active in chimpanzee conservation, rescue and well-being. In just the last year, three such projects include Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust in Uganda, Limbe Wildlife Centre in Cameroon and Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection.

You may remember in July last year, Born Free was part of a team that helped save four chimpanzees – Simao, Fifi, Tita and Tze – from the illegal wildlife pet trade in Guinea Bissau and relocate them to a lifetime home with our friends at Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection (LCRP). The youngsters had each been kept in isolation, in small, barren cages spread over Guinea Bissau. Now settled into life at LCRP and at last enjoying the company of others of their kind, the four friends are doing amazingly well. We will be running a full update on their progress later this month to mark the first anniversary of their rescue.

Nearly 25 years ago, Born Free helped to establish Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust, where today a large community of rescued chimpanzees enjoy 100 acres of rainforest, on an island in Lake Victoria. We contribute to the lifetime care of these orphans and support the island’s extensive community education programme. In August this year, we will be joining Ngamba Island to celebrate 25 years of their inspiring work so, again, look out for our blog closer to the time.

“Together, let’s do everything we can to support chimpanzee rescue, protect these sentient mammals in the wild where they play a key ecological role, and pledge not to support their captive exploitation.”

A tiny baby chimpanzee peeping out from inside a green crateSince 2004, Born Free has provided long-term support for Limbe Wildlife Centre (LWC) in Cameroon, a highly respected sanctuary specialising in orphan chimpanzees and gorillas, amongst other species. LWC provides lifetime care to confiscated individuals from the illegal wildlife trade in Cameroon, such as Chinoise. When Chinoise (pictured right) was just a few weeks old, her mother was killed by poachers and she was sold as a pet to a Chinese restaurant in Douala, Cameroon.

Fortunately, she was rescued and arrived at LWC as a scared young juvenile, weighing just 7.8kg and with little understanding of how to be a chimpanzee. Almost 10 years later, Chinoise has a healthy adult weight of 48kg and is part of LWC’s mainland group of 14 chimpanzees. She is very cheeky and, under the watchful eye of her adopted mum Papaya, spends a lot of time playing with the other chimpanzees, when they are in the mood!

An adult chimpanzee looking happy and healthy in a rainforest environmentRecent rescues to arrive at LWC include Bakossi and Niete, who were rescued last year. These two isolated infant chimpanzees have been slowly introduced to one another over the last few months. They now spend time together in the nursery area exploring, climbing, playing and ‘learning how to be chimpanzees’ ahead of being integrated into a larger group, when they are old enough. You can enjoy this heart-warming video of their first meeting.

On this special day, join Born Free and give a pant-hoot to celebrate these remarkable beings. Together, let’s do everything we can to support chimpanzee rescue, protect these sentient mammals in the wild where they play a key ecological role, and pledge not to support their captive exploitation.

Thank you!

Images © Limbe Wildlife Centre