Stop the Show: Luc’s Story


It’s a busy day in the restaurant. Children visiting with their parents poke Luc, wishing to rile him into some sort of dance. Luc tries to retaliate, to follow the children to play, but he is tethered to a post by a tightly bound rope.

Luc is a chimpanzee. He was taken as an infant, his mother likely killed in order for humans to claim him as a prop for their business. Lucky for Luc, he was taken once more: this time, to Tchimpounga sanctuary. The Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center is among the largest chimpanzee sanctuaries on the African continent, and as such we have taken in many victims of the pet and entertainment trades. Luc is one of them.

Luc, the “Entertainer”

Chimp Luc at Tchindzoulou Island

Chimp Luc at Tchindzoulou Island

Luc was sold to a restaurant owner who used Luc as an ‘entertaining’ display for his business, hoping that the cute infant chimpanzee would lure in more customers. But when Luc began to grow out of babyhood and gain enough strength to make it hard to control and contain him, the restaurant owner sold the young chimpanzee back to a trafficker.

The trafficker then attempted to sell Luc to another buyer on the black market, but luckily the trafficker was caught by local authorities and Luc was confiscated and sent to Tchimpounga. Luc later became on of Tchimpounga’s most famous residents when the story of his rescue was featured on Congolese television, as the person apprehended with Luc was the first ever to be tried and imprisoned in the Congo for trafficking a chimpanzee!

Second Chance Luc

While Luc was now safe at Tchimpounga, he still had a long road ahead of him. As a consequence of being separated from his mother at such an early age, Luc didn’t know how to interact with other chimpanzees in his group. This led to Luc seeking out the attention and companionship of human caregivers rather than his chimpanzee peers.

This was not ideal, as staff at Tchimpounga know that a rich social life with other chimpanzees is key to any chimpanzee’s long-term happiness and recovery. Eventually Luc became more and more comfortable with other chimpanzees and now is at ease within his group, although he remains reserved and doesn’t like to get involved in struggles for power.

Without Tchimpounga, chimpanzees like Luc would face a lifetime in the entertainment trade, a lifetime that would be filled with loneliness, abuse, and one that would likely end much too soon. But thanks to JGI’s supporters (Find out more about becoming a Chimp Guardian), we are able to offer a lifetime home for Luc and other chimpanzees who are rescued from wildlife traffickers.

Chimp Luc on Tchindzoulou Island.

Chimp Luc on Tchindzoulou Island.

Luc’s life became even happier a few years ago when he was selected to be one of the first chimpanzees to be transferred to Tchindzoulou Island, one of Tchimpounga’s new sanctuary sites. On the forested island, Luc is free to roam with his chimpanzee friends and explore his new home. We look forward to seeing gentle, playful Luc continue to learn and grow at Tchimpounga. You can read more about Luc’s life on the island as a free chimp here.

To become a Chimp Guardian and support chimps like Luc, rescued from the pet and entertainment trades, click here.

You can help #StoptheShow by using your voice to protect chimpanzees and other animals and prevent them being put into harmful situations in the name of “entertainment.” Sign our petition and share with your friends, family and loved ones! 

Click to Tweet:

” Using chimps & other great apes in entertainment comes at an enormous cost. #StoptheShow: Sign & share. “

About Author

Brittany is the Manager of Marketing and Communications at the Jane Goodall Institute. She focuses on outreach to JGI's supporter base through both print and electronic communications. Brittany has a BA in Journalism & Media studies from Rutgers University and a master's degree in International Politics & Human Rights from the University of Glasgow. Her involvement with the Jane Goodall Institute began in 2011 when she became an intern for Roots & Shoots, JGI's global youth program. Later that same year, she accepted a permanent position on JGI's Development team.