Captain comes home

Posted in 16/11/2020

Photo Credit: Laurence Wozniak/PASA

From PASA – Pan African Sanctuaries Alliance

Do you remember Captain? As an infant, his mother was killed by poachers who then sold Captain as an illegal pet. He was kept alone for 11 long years in a barren cage that was so small, he couldn’t even stand.

PASA and Parc de la Lekedi, one of our member sanctuaries in Gabon, rescued Captain from these terrible conditions. He was temporarily brought to the International Center for Medical Research (CIRMF) in Franceville, Gabon. This facility phased out its great ape research program in 2001 and now provides quarantine and health exams for confiscated primates before they go to sanctuaries.

It was intended that Captain would stay at CIRMF until Parc de la Lekedi was able to make space for him at the sanctuary. However, Captain’s move to his permanent home was postponed due to the safety requirements and travel restrictions posed by COVID-19. But in September, Parc de la Lekedi was finally able to transport Captain to the sanctuary! He was joined by Ibamba, a young female rescued chimpanzee at CIRMF whom he had befriended.

The transfer went smoothly, and both Captain and Ibamba are now in a large enclosure next to that of their new group at Parc de la Lekedi. This is allowing the chimpanzees to get to know each other through a safety barrier before Captain and Imbaba are fully integrated into the troop. Living in isolation for so many years, Captain struggles to understand typical chimpanzee facial expressions. This means that introducing him to other chimpanzees will be a challenging process. It will only be possible because of the sanctuary staff’s expertise, care, and patience.

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