The Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage continued its commitment to providing orphaned chimpanzees a “virtual” wild experience when it transferred a group of 13 to a new enclosure that covers 75 acres of forests and grassland in central Zambia.
The transfer now means that 99 of the 123 chimpanzees at Chimfunshi are living in vast, free-range enclosures that cover over 1,200 acres at the sanctuary. Chimfunshi’s enclosures are the largest area ever set aside for captive chimpanzees.
Chimfunshi is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2008, and is one of the oldest and largest chimpanzee sanctuaries in the world. Founded by David and Sheila Siddle on their cattle farm in Zambia in 1983, Chimfunshi went on to pioneer many of the protocols, designs and techniques considered standard at sanctuaries today.
Dr. Bruce Peck, a veterinarian from South Africa who has assisted in several chimpanzee projects at Chimfunshi, was brought in from South Africa to oversee the latest transfer, which was conducted on June 13.
Among the chimpanzees shifted to the new enclosure are Julie, a 14-year old female that had been one of the last animals in a private zoo in Qatar when she arrived in 2001; Commando, an eight-year old male that had been rescued as an infant in 2002 from the Central African Republic, where poachers had broken his jaw; and Kathy and Val, a pair of infants that were confiscated from smugglers attempting to bring them illegally into Qatar in 2001.
The chimpanzees were anesthetized for the move and transported from their old five-acre enclosure to the new site by truck. After being allowed to rest and recover in their indoor handling facilities for 24 hours, the chimpanzees were released into the enclosure and enticed to explore by shelled peanuts scattered through the underbrush by the staff.