The Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone doesn’t normally breed chimps. “We want to save our resources, money and space, for the rescued chimps,” Sofie Meilvang, program manager at the sanctuary, explained to The Dodo. And then along came Jerry…
Jerry is a rescued female chimp who got pregnant after her contraceptive implant (similar to ones humans use) failed. They are unsure how or why, but the preventative is known not to be 100% safe, also speculating that the chimp may have removed it herself without them knowing.
The surprise baby arrived at the end of 2015, and was named Joko Junior after his father who passed away before he was born.
To start Jerry was impatient with Joko, carrying him on her back even though he wasn’t big enough yet, and cutting his breast feeding short.
Meilvang told The Dodo, “She would also be very impatient when he was breastfeeding and only allowed him to drink for a few minutes.”
The team at the sanctuary watched him closely though, and Jerry has taken to motherhood well with the help of three other females, Jerusalem, Gola and Yoyema.
Most of the orphans at the sanctuary are a result of bushmeat hunting or human-wildlife conflict, losing their mothers at a very young age.
Joko Junior is one of the lucky ones however, and at 5 months old, he is growing fast. The sanctuary is full of rescued chimps and thanks to them, they all get a second chance at life.
Back in 2009 the sanctuary rescued a tiny albino chimpanzee called Pinkie, who, despite her different looks, was successfully integrated with the other chimps.