Changing Lives for 20 Years — Part II

Changing Lives for 20 Years — Part II

In 2020, PASA celebrates 20 years of securing a future for Africa’s primates. We’re marking the occasion by sharing the stories of memorable rescues and the joy of giving an endangered chimpanzee, gorilla or monkey a second chance.

by Natasha Tworoski

This is the second installment of our blog series celebrating the many lives that have been transformed through the life-saving care provided by PASA members. PASA is celebrating 20 years of protecting Africa’s primates in 2020. In that time, the 23 members that make up the alliance have rescued thousands of endangered apes and monkeys from tragic circumstances like the bushmeat and illegal pet trade. Beyond rescuing and caring for gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, drills and many species of monkey, the centers do much more, like educating people on the importance of wildlife conservation and working with local authorities to protect fragile habitat. Today, PASA is a leading conservation charity that raises funds to save apes and monkeys, run programs across Africa to improve animal care, and address systemic issues of wildlife trafficking and deforestation.


Lilongwe Wildlife Trust

Lilongwe Wildlife Trust helps all of Malawi’s wildlife through rehabilitation, education and research. From lion to monkey to lizard, their team has a diverse caretaking skill set. In 2019, a three month old yellow baboon, Polly, was found abandoned on the side of the road, likely orphaned by the illegal wildlife trade. After being fostered by volunteers, the team began to introduce her to an experienced baboon mother, Ivy, and her foster daughter Rogue. Initially, they kept Polly separated from her new family by mesh, so the baboons could touch and meet each other, but there was still some protection. After Lilongwe staff observed positive behavior, such as social grooming and lip smacking, Ivy and Rogue were allowed into Polly’s space. The little orphan was immediately embraced by her new sister and encouraged to ride on the back of her new mother. Introducing rehabilitated primates to their own kind as quickly as possible, especially when they are babies, is crucial to them developing normal social behavior and living a healthier life.


Chimp Eden
South Africa

The Jane Goodall Institute-South Africa, also known as Chimp Eden, is another important member of the PASA family. While chimpanzees are not native to South Africa, rescues from circuses and research facilities in the region have shown there is still a need for a sanctuary. One of the most memorable faces there is Jessica, the 37 year old alpha female of her group. Before coming to Chimp Eden in 2009, Jessica was being used as a breeding female in a circus and arrived traumatized after having humans take her babies from her for years. When rescued infants from the bushmeat trade were brought to the sanctuary, Jessica quickly adopted them. Getting the chance to be a surrogate mother pulled Jessica out of her depressive state and she began to thrive. In 2017, one of the young chimps that Jessica had helped raise, Baiza, had a contraceptive failure and became pregnant, giving birth to a healthy female. Staff at Chimp Eden were concerned about how the males would react to the baby, but they needn’t fear! Jessica stepped in and became a body guard for Baiza and her baby, pushing other chimps away as if to say, “nothing to see her, move along!” Jessica even blocked the other chimps from entering their night time area until Baiza, her baby and Jessica were inside and secured in their own room. Jessica vigilant by Baiza’s side for days as the group adjusted to the new addition. Jessica remains a playful, strong leader who love rubber boots and bananas! Check out Jessica’s story here!


Limbe Wildlife Center

In Cameroon, the Limbe Wildlife Centre rescues a range of wildlife, specializing in parrots and primates. One species of monkey, the drill, is frequently in need of sanctuary due to the bushmeat trade. Mundongo is a memorable drill at Limbe. She arrived as an orphaned infant in 2013 with a broken right rib. Understandably, she was extremely nervous after the trauma she endured, but with medical care, comfort and nutrition, she recovered. Alongside infants Ossing and Whisky. Today, she happily lives with other rescued drills in her sanctuary home.

Masoma, a male red-capped Mangabey, was also rescued by the Limbe Wildlife Centre in Cameroon. Listed as endangered in 2019, this beautiful monkey species is in serious trouble in the wild. Masoma was about two years old when he found his way to Limbe, unfortunately after being passed around as a pet between three different owners. While he spent his first years tethered to a rope and living in a cramped cage, Masoma is known at Limbe for being energetic and playful, making the most out of all the enrichment opportunities in his spacious sanctuary home.


Fernan-Vaz Gorilla Project

At PASA member Fernan-Vaz Gorilla Project in Gabon, orphaned gorillas always have a safe place to call home! In 2005, a young baby named Ivindo was rescued. Today she is the dominant female living in Cessé’s group on their rehabilitation island, Oriquet Island, where she can be found wading in a stream, building nests in the trees or just relaxing!


Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Sierra Leone

Located just outside Freetown, Sierra Leone is one of PASA’s founding members, Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary. After decades of rescuing chimpanzees, Tacugama has a strong relationship with the local community and law enforcement, which helps them in their mission to rescue the many orphans still coming in every year. For supporters of the sanctuary, one memorable rescue is Flavour. One of the youngest infant chimpanzees to ever arrive at the sanctuary, Flavour spent a long time depending on his surrogate mother, Mama P, as he built up his health and his confidence. Today, he happily has many other chimpanzees to eat, sleep and play with!


D.R. Congo

Our next story is about a chimp named Pasa, in honor of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance! In the Democratic Republic of Congo is another member of our PASA family, J.A.C.K. or Jeunes Animaux Confisques Au Katanga (French for Young Animals Confiscated in Katanga). When Pasa the chimp arrived at J.A.C.K. he was malnourished. His body was thin, his belly was bloated from a worm infestation and he was losing his hair. He had spent two years living in a hut, never allowed to go out into the sunlight. After three months of good nutrition and a chance to play outside, he was pulled from his depressed state and began to play with the other chimpanzees. He even had new hair coming in! Thanks to the care he has received at J.A.C.K., Pasa is now a healthy adult male, living life with his own kind.

These are a few stories among the thousands of primates PASA members have rescued and rehabilitated over 20 years. (See the story of 14 rescued primates in Part One.) While each individual has his or her own journey, the story is often the same. The illegal bushmeat and pet trades decimate wild primate populations. There are many primates who still need to be rescued unfortunately. PASA’s role in primate welfare has never been more critical Your support will help PASA and the wildlife centers who form our alliance continue this life saving work. Consider making a donation. Or sign and share our petition to stop the illegal pet trade. Your generosity and compassion fuel our mission. Please help us celebrate our 20th anniversary by making sure that PASA and all its members are around for another 20 years!