Second Chances in 2022: Stories from Tchimpounga’s Chimpanzees 


In another year full of unique global challenges, a little bit of hope goes a long way. One place we’re finding a lot of hope is in the inspiring stories from our programs! The Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of the Congo (RoC) offers second chances to chimpanzees orphaned or injured through the illegal wildlife trade. At Tchimpounga, trained JGI caretakers, researchers, and other professionals work with these chimpanzees and other wildlife with an individualized approach – each animal given a care plan to heal and thrive. Through this work, wildlife are given a second chance at a happy life. Enjoy this hopeful collection of Tchimpounga chimpanzee stories from 2022!

New Chimpanzees on Ngombe Island

At JGI’s Tchimpounga Sanctuary, Sanctuary islands have been the forest home of over 100 rescued chimpanzees for the last several years. While Tchindzoulou Island’s population has gotten a bit smaller, the group on Ngombe is growing! In addition to some of the young male chimpanzees like Zola who were relocated to Ngombe, a group of new females was recently introduced. This group includes Tvinga, Ngoro, and Manisa, who have been doing well with their slow integration into the group! Anzac seems particularly interested in these newcomers, and has been seen showing off with loud displays — a good sign that she is maturing quickly! It seems like these new females could be powerful alliances for Anzac in the future.

JGI Caretake Teaches Young Chimpanzees to be Chimpanzees

Young chimpanzee Zeze attempts to crack open hard nuts using the resources around him!

Our younger residents at Tchimpounga are learning what it takes to be adult chimpanzees, thanks to the attention and care of our JGI Tchimpounga staff! Recently, caretaker Serge has been teaching the baby chimpanzees to open nuts using rocks. This is a delicate process that requires a lot of concentration, patience, and coordination — the last of which many of them haven’t quite developed yet, much like human children. In the wild, these young chimpanzees would have learned this skill from their mothers or other adult chimpanzees, so it’s important that they learn from caretakers now. Each lesson, Serge searches through the vegetation for these nuts, takes them to a quiet place in the middle of a road, and sits on the ground at the level of young chimpanzees. He then picks up a stone and hits the nuts hard, the sound of which brings many interested chimpanzees closer. None of the youngsters have succeeded yet, but Perrine, Zeze, and Kabi have all been paying close attention, and Serge thinks it won’t be long before they have it figured out!

Observations Begin for Potential Release

In preparation for a hopeful wild release, observations of the Tchindzoulou Island group have begun! Caregivers follow the chimpanzees at a distance and collect information on the “Zoomonitor” app installed on their phones. They keep note of what individuals eat, when they eat, with whom they interact, when they rest, where they make their nest for sleeping, when and where they move, and any other important details they notice. To make caregivers more comfortable — and to make it easier to follow the chimpanzees — not all chimpanzees go out at once, leaving some to rest for longer in the indoor facility. The details these caregivers collect become part of the personalized monitoring of each chimpanzee, and add to our understanding of the group dynamics as a whole, helping staff create the best possible plan for a potential wild release!

Are You Ready to be a Chimpanzee Guardian? 

You can give rescued chimpanzees and other wildlife a second chance at a happy life. Support our work by becoming (or gifting) a Chimpanzee Guardian today!

Learn more about the ways that the Jane Goodall Institute protects chimpanzees through our Tacare approach to community-led conservation by checking out our inspiring publications!

About Author

Kira is the communications coordinator for JGI programs at the Jane Goodall Institute USA, where she supports the team in advancing public engagement with JGI's holistic programs. Kira graduated from Smith College in 2021, majoring in anthropology and minoring in art history, and during her time there she developed a deep interest in the field of anthrozoology. Her interests within this field are broad, and have led her to study elephant iconography in the U.S. and wildlife management in Tanzania. JGI's values and mission as well as the mindset of anthrozoology guide her work, exploring the interactions between humans and other animals in order to promote a healthier coexistence on this shared planet.