Great Apes Sanctuary of Vargem Grande Paulista /SP

In 1998, Selma Mandruca, currently the national coordinator of GAP Brazil, and her mother,  Sonia, bought Serginho, a baby chimpanzee. They had plans to raise him as a pet, but shortly they realized that this idea was wrong and issues regarding mistreating of animals led them to get involved with the cause and to dedicate their time to the battle for great primates’ rights,  managing a sanctuary.

Facilities of Vargem Grande Paulista Sanctuary include an internal area of approximately 300m2 with bedrooms, food area, connection aisles and security corridors. The sanctuary also has a large external area for playing activities, exercise and socialization.  As long as it houses a small group of chimpanzees, it is possible to develop a socialization work and to have a close and personal contact with each one of them. The chimpanzees of this sanctuary are very much like humans, because all of them were raised in circuses. In raining days, for instance, they enjoy watching TV. 



Female. DOB: 1996/07/09,  Garcia Circus. Arrived at the sanctuary when she was 8 years old and she is Serginho’s sister. She was raised inside the circus by a human family together with a same age girl, who taught her to play like she was in a little house – she can spend hours playing alone with some little pots and water. She is very sweet and laughing.


Female. DOB: 1998/04/06, Garcia Circus.  She arrived to live with Serginho in 2004. She is the dominant female. Even being small in size, she has a very strong personality.  She is decisive, very smart, but also very needy, anxious and possessive.


Male. DOB:  1983 (estimated).  He arrived at the sanctuary in 2003, coming form Di Nápoli circus, where he worked for years. He is very intelligent and understands human language. His teeth were pulled out when he was young, but this does not avoid him to be the “glutton” of the sanctuary.

IN MEMORIAM – They lived at the sanctuary and now rest in peace


1998/03/20 – 2019/01/07

Male. Arrived in Selma and Sonia’s house when he was 8 months old, and lived there until he turned five. When they built the facilities of the sanctuary, he took some time to adapt to the chimpanzee enclosure, because he thought he was human. Because of that the sanctuary put mattresses in the beds, a TV in front of his bedroom and his toys and story books were always near him. He was the one who opened the owners of the sanctuary eyes and heart to the chimpanzee and great apes cause.†-07-01-2019/


1987 – 2016/01/10

Female. She lived for years in Moscou circus, where she used to take photos with the audience. At the sanctuary, she lived with Nino until her last day. She was extremely kind and enjoyed care of her nails.