Chimp Stories: Luc

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Luc is a true explorer. He manages to convince his group every morning to take a long walk on the forest throughout the island. Now that the island facilities are more complete, the caregivers rarely have physical contact with the chimpanzees unless there is a situation that requires it such as veterinary care or feeding. For this reason, Luc’s group hikes through the forest are a mystery to the staff. They can only been from the shore of the islands. This is intentional so that the chimpanzees can have as natural an experience as possible without human interference, now that they’ve been transferred from Tchimpounga’s main site and onto the island. This also of course protects the caregivers as well. As the chimpanzees continue to grow, they get ever stronger, some having unpredictable personalities, and can be aggressive and even dangerous at times.

Therefore when Luc travels into the forest, nobody knows what happens. What can be known are is his path through the forest because sooner or later he will appear near the bank of the river, usually in places where the caregivers provide food from the boats. It appears that he has a routine patrol through regular forest paths, always going to the same places. Perhaps these paths are setup based on other food sources along the way? The navigating abilities of chimpanzees in the forest is impressive. It’s almost as if they have a compass in their heads. Sometimes, out of any path, they can walk for hours toward the northwest, without changing orientation.

Luc on Tchindzoulou Island

Luc on Tchindzoulou Island

Yoko and Silaho remain the two preferred chimpanzees as Luc’s companions, although this cute chimpanzee likes to play with all of the members of their group. Yoko plays with Luc constantly, but sometimes loses control of his strength and hurts Luc who starts screaming and running to hug Silaho for comfort. Yoko is an adult male and sometimes he is a little rough, but when he sees he has hurt Luc he runs over to apologize showing that he cares. Luc quickly forgives Yoko. Silaho seems to look at Yoko with rebuke: “Yoko, you brute, be careful with Luc, he’s is still too small!”

Where Luc’s journey on the island will lead, no one knows! We are excited to find out and follow him as he grows and continues to discover.
Learn more about JGI’sTchimpounga Sanctuary in Republic of Congo 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.