Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust Visit, part 2

 We stayed on the road, and saw a sign that seemed to read "Camp Sites" "private access only."  We, instead, followed another sign that read "Project".  We came to this building, and found the first indication we might actually be at the "Project."

A worker waved us to a parking spot, then greeted us with a friendly, "I'm Dominic.  Are you visiting for the first time?"

It turned out that we had taken the "old" road, and had arrived at the original orphanage site.  Not a problem.  This afforded us a chance to visit with Sheila Siddle, in her mid 80's, whose farm the orphanage was housed at.

She gave us a nice chat, shared photos of Billy the Hippo, was intrigued that Mary homeschooled, and then gave her a copy of "Billy The Hippo, A true story by Sheila Siddle."  If we had been on our toes I would have taken a photo.  Hopefully in the future we can do so.

Sheila was brought to Zambia with her family in her late teen years, and after marrying she and her husband, the late David Siddle, raised their family and were contacted to help with chimpanzees who were rescued.  About 20 years ago they were also asked to help out with an orphaned hippo who's mother had been killed near Ndola.

Her book is published in Zambia with Mission Press.  In the US the book is published as "Happy Hippo Billy."   Sadly, Billy died last year, cutting short the estimated 40 year life span by half.

Sheila turned us back over to Dominic so he could show us the original Orphanage.  He was a very good guide.  The first place we stopped was to meet this fellow:

Dominic told us that he came from a private home and was not well adapted.  In fact this chimp had been abused, and was afraid of both other animals and humans.  They tried to integrate him with the other chimps, but because he was not dominant was being hurt, so the sad conclusion was that he has to remain in seclusion.  
These next two individuals get along together, but also may never be able to be out with the family groups.  Both were too "humanized" and lacked the survival skills, and social skills necessary to be incorporated back with other chimps.

While you may be put off by the electric fencing, the enclosures are quite vast, except, of course, where it is a concrete house.  This is a small family group, mainly trying to help these chimps learn how to get along.  As I recall they will eventually be placed into the other three groups.  The little guy is about 2 years old.

The sanctuary is, in my opinion, between a bit of a rock and a hard place.  The chimpanzees come to them from around the world.  Some rescued, some retired from circuses and zoos.  Two of the chimps we met (and who have to remain isolated) were found to be cigarette smokers and beer drinkers.  Chimps can receive and give any disease that humans can.  They are also quick learners.  More about that toward the end of these pictures.

As per international agreement they can never accept the chimps for money, nor give any away.  Once a chimp comes to the CWOT they remain for life.  The ownership of part of the trust is in limbo, too, as the German owner has recently died, and nobody really knows what any heirs will do in the future.  The entire trust is private, relying on the small admission fees collected, and donations.

In addition to chimpanzees, and the lone hippo, Sheila and her family take in parrots (also, like the chimps, not native to Zambia.)  Just like the chimps, these can never be traded, sold or given away.  Once they arrive, they remain.  Sheila also showed an injured bush baby in a cage, taking care of it because of a broken leg.  As I said, it is a tough situation.

These next pictures of us going to visit the building pictured at the beginning of this post.  This is where the male chimpanzees are housed.  They have become too dominant, though they all get along together here.

This is a view from the top of the building, looking out over the Kafue River valley.  Dominic told us that the flat green area is more typically covered with water.  This has been a dryer than normal year.  The vegetation in the foreground are the vines overtaking what was left of the tall trees in the male sanctuary.  The chimps like to climb, and chew, effectively killing off the trees.  
 Here are some of the big males.  They are fed in the morning, early and late afternoon.  One of the times they are inspected by staff to ensure each is healthy.  If a problem is detected the staff at the Orphanage take care of it themselves.

Walking back to the car I caught a photo of one of the males scooting along the fence line.  They are well camouflaged!  This fellow is quite old, sporting a silver back.

The inevitable peacock, like at any other zoo. 

Tom is walking back with Dominic, following a young a family who joined us.Their two young boys were thrilled at the white rabbits being kept at this part of the sanctuary.
Back on the road to the "Office."

Closer to the sign, we can see it didn't say "Camps" but "Chimps" 

The next stop was along the road, over a small river, past a small village, and then to the Main Office.

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