People Doing Good: Veterinary Assistant, Hugues Boungou

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Hugues Boungou is a veterinary assistant at the Jane Goodall Institute in Republic of Congo. He provides support to Dr. Rebeca Atencia, JGI-Congo’s executive director and veterinarian, as well as the rest of the staff at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center.

Hugues previously worked as a nurse in a hospital in the town of Pointe Noire, some forty kilometers from Tchimpounga. With good references from Hervé Tchikaya, the head of nurse at Tchimpounga, Hugues was admitted to the veterinary team of the sanctuary. He quickly adapted to the new work since many of the medications used with chimpanzees are the same as with humans.

JGI Tchimpounga Staff member Hugues Boungou

JGI Tchimpounga Staff member Hugues Boungou

Hugues says that what he likes most about his job is that he is helping save lives of chimpanzees. He splits his time between the main sanctuary, and the Kouilou River islands, where many chimpanzees have been transferred from the old sanctuary. Some of them owe their lives to this brilliant veterinary assistant, as Hugues is extremely intelligent and very intuitive. He likes to investigate diseases. Since he arrived at Tchimpounga, Hugues skills have advanced considerably. He now operates X-ray equipment and microscopes with ease.
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Hugues also spends several days a month in Conkouati Douli National Park where he carries out the veterinary follow-up of a group of mandrills that JGI reintroduced there. Hugues believes that baboons are sociable animals and are capable of establishing strong emotional bonds. And, like chimpanzees, baboons have their own personalities as well. Hugues believes in the appropriate and careful treatment of chimpanzees and other primates, as this creates trust between veterinarians and the animals allowing the veterinarians to do their job effectively.

Learn more about our Tchimpounga Sanctuary here and our mandrill rehabilitation and release project here.

About Author

Ashley Sullivan is the Associate Director of Communications & Partnerships at the Jane Goodall Institute USA, where she works to connect individuals with Dr. Jane Goodall's vision, and the JGI mission to create a better world for all by protecting the interconnections between people, other animals, and the environment. Ashley graduated Stony Brook University with a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology and a minor in Biology, and is currently a Master's of Science Candidate for Environmental Science & Policy at Johns Hopkins University with a focus on Environmental Justice. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, now a D.C. resident, she has a varied background including nearly 10 years of expert communications and digital marketing in the social and environmental non-profit sector. Her intersectional approach to this work has been shaped by a holistic world-view, having traveled to Madagascar and Ecuador for conservation research projects, leading communications for youth social justice filmmaking programs, and as a part of several professional groups advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in environmental spaces. With skills ranging from conservation fieldwork, policy and advocacy campaigns, strategic communications, art, digital media, and design, Ashley believes in sharing information to empower and in the magic of storytelling to change hearts and minds. Through growing understanding, empathy, and justice, she is igniting positive change to create that better, more equitable world, every day.