A female chimpanzee that was one of the last exhibits in the private zoo of an Arab sheik has been transferred to the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Zambia, where she will become a surrogate big sister for a group of orphan chimps in the nursery.
Julie, a seven-year old female, journeyed from Doha, Qatar, to the sanctuary in southern Africa, a trip that spanned three continents in three days. After a period of adjustment, Julie will be introduced to the three babies – Kathy, Val and Miracle – that currently inhabit Chimfunshi’s nursery.
Julie is the 84th chimpanzee to arrive at Chimfunshi, a converted cattle farm in central Zambia that allows injured and unwanted chimpanzees to roam through enclosures spanning more than 1,100 acres.
“We’ve had luck in the past with introducing older chimps to act as mothers and role models to our babies,” said Sheila Siddle, who founded Chimfunshi along with her husband, David, in 1983. “Given Julie’s age and temperament, we hope she will be able to give Kathy, Val and Miracle the sort of guidance and support they need. Young chimpanzees learn so much by imitating their elders and that is the role we believe she can play.”
Julie spent the last few years as the sole chimpanzee in the private zoo of a sheik in Qatar. But when the zoo was dismantled, Julie was adopted by a pair of German expatriates, Sven and Catrin Hammer, who arranged for her release and accompanied her on the 59-hour trip to Chimfunshi.
Ironically, two of the babies Julie is expected to adopt – Kathy and Val – also came from Qatar, where they were confiscated after being smuggled into the country via North Africa. Although an endangered species, chimpanzees are prized as pets in the Middle East and the region remains one of the most active in the black-market trade.
For more information, please visit the Chimfunshi website at www.chimfunshi.org.za or contact:
Friends of Chimfunshi (South Africa)
Friends of Chimfunshi (Germany)