Vargem Grande Paulista Sanctuary

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

Nowadays Vargem Grande Paulista sanctuary houses the grown-up Serginho and other four chimpanzees, who live in two different groups. The installations have an internal area of approximately 300m2 with bedrooms, food area, connection aisles and security corridors, and, besides, they have a large external area for playing activities, exercise and socialization. As long as they are not too many, it is possible to develop a socialization work and to have a closer and more personal contact with each one. The chimpanzees of this sanctuary are very much like humans, as long as all of them came from circus, and they love to watch TV, mainly in the rainy days.

Our guests in Vargem Grande Paulista



Female, she was born in Garcia circus in July, 9th,1996. She arrived at the sanctuary with 8 years old and she is sister of Serginho. She had been raised inside the circus by a human family together with a girl of the same age 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 tender, sweet and laughing. She hardly plays with the others and prefers to stay in her place, in her particular world. She is very delicate, a perfect lady.



Female, she was born in April, 6th,1998. She arrived to live with Serginho in the middle of 2004. Certainly 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. She is aggressive with whom she does not know and wants all the attention just for her. She has been chosen by Serginho as his partner.



Female, she came from Magical Moscow circus in the end of 2006. We do not know her exact age, but her past owner affirmed she was 20 years old. But the vet who examined her ensured she must be more then 30 years old. As soon as she arrived she had the habit of drinking, frenetically, three liters of water by once. She became Nino’s partner very quickly, because she is very kind. She is always hugging and kissing him. She loves to make nests. When she goes to sleep, she tales a lot of blankets and weaves them to form a big nest, which she repeats a lot of times until it gets exactly as she wants. If she is interrupted during this ritual, she gets very upset and starts everything all over again.



Male, around 24 years old (he was born in 1983). He arrived at the sanctuary in 2003, coming form Di Nápoli circus, where he always has worked. He is very intelligent and understands everything we say. His teeth had been pulled out when he was young, but this does not avoid him to be the “glutton” of the sanctuary. He loves cakes, breads, juices and yogurt. He gets crazy when he sees a Coke. He is an adult with a child soul. He likes to meet people who arrive, is very good and kind and loves children. Today he lives with Judy, who is his partner.



Male, he was born in Garcia circus in March, 3rd, 1998 and arrived at Selma and Sonia’s house with eight-month old. There he lives until he was five years old and because of that he is much humanized and understands everything that we say. He is tender, intelligent and naïve, even with the females with whom he lives. He loves magazines, to draw with crayon, paint with watercolor and knows how to make others understand him with gestures and sounds. When he was moved to live in the chimpanzees’ enclosure, it took a while for him to get accustomed, because he felt he was a human. Because of that we adapted mattresses in the beds, TV in front of his bedroom his toys and storybooks are always near him. He was the one who opened our eyes and heart to the chimpanzees cause.