The Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Zambia has promoted Innocent Chitalu Mulenga to the position of interim manager, making him the first Zambian to oversee daily operations of the chimpanzee sanctuary since it was founded in 1983.
Mulenga fills the role vacated by Tony Rauch, who resigned after almost two years in the post on July 15.
Mulenga’s promotion was announced by Chimfunshi Board of Trustees chairman Charles “Tig” Siddle, who said he hopes to hire a permanent manager by the end of the year. Until then, Mulenga – who will also be considered for the permanent position – will handle all aspects of Chimfunshi’s operations.
“Chimfunshi is indeed lucky to be able to turn to Innocent Mulenga to handle the day-to-day responsibility of managing the sanctuary, even as we begin the search for a permanent replacement,” Siddle said. “Innocent is well-versed in the routine, he is respected by the staff, and he is trained in primatology. He enjoys the complete confidence of the Chimfunshi board of trustees and is a valuable asset.”
Mulenga, 35, joined Chimfunshi as an education officer in 2005, and was promoted to project manager under Rauch two years later. Born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia, Mulenga graduated from the University of Zambia in 2004 and earned his Master of Science degree in primate conservation from Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom in 2007.
Chimfunshi is one of the largest chimpanzee sanctuaries in the world, and recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. More than 145 chimpanzees have found care and protection at Chimfunshi since it was created by David and Sheila Siddle on their cattle ranch in central Zambia in 1983.