After four long months in solitary quarantine, rescued chimpanzee Manno has taken his first steps inside Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, and seen other chimpanzees for the first time since he was a baby. Friday 31st March marked the end of Manno’s mandatory quarantine period, four months after he landed in Kenya from northern Iraq where he was rescued. Among his welcoming party was Spencer Sekyer, a volunteer who initiated Manno’s rescue from appalling conditions about 3 years ago. Spencer made the trip from Canada to be here on Manno’s big day. Also on hand was Kenya Wildlife Service vet, Dr. Kariuki, Ol Pejeta’s in-house vet, Dr. Stephen Ngulu, and the incredible chimpanzee caretaker team at Sweetwaters.
Manno was released into his own pen at the chimpanzee house, a building made up of several big integration enclosure connected to the outdoor Sanctuary, separated by a central corridor. This is where the chimpanzees come to sleep at night - we like to think of them more like dormitories. The central corridor allows the caretakers to conduct checks every evening, making sure all the chimpanzees are healthy and happy.
The amazing team of caretakers at Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
“He was so happy when he stepped out of his crate into his new home” said Stephen Mukundi, his caretaker “he was running around greeting all his human friends who were there to support him.”
Now we need your help to make his integration enclosure a cozy, entertaining oasis, as we settle him into his new home.
Manno’s integration into the Sweetwaters group will be a very gradual process. Snatched from his mother at a young age, Manno cannot remember what another chimpanzee sounds like, let alone how they look, or how he should behave around them. His pen is 20 metres away from the others, so he will be able to watch other chimpanzees, maybe even talk to them, without any physical interaction. This is for his safety and mental wellbeing – chimpanzees can be aggressive and unpredictable, and we do not want to overwhelm Manno or put him in any danger.
Dr. Kariuki, the KWS vet, leads the way when it's time to move Manno's crate to his new home.
“This is the beginning of a social journey for Manno. Through integration he will learn to love as a chimpanzee and enjoy the happiness of living in a family. Something he has never experienced before.” said David Mundia, Chimpanzee Sanctuary Supervisor.
For the next 6 to 12 months, the Sweetwaters team will work around the clock to help Manno settle in to his new surroundings. When they feel he is ready, they will introduce him to ‘foster mum’ Akela.
Much like Manno, Akela had a difficult start in life at the hands of humans. She was a victim of the pet trade, kept in a small cage in an apartment for years until she was finally rescued. She has grown into a playful, loving chimpanzee at Sweetwaters, and has experience in adopting young chimps. Her strong mothering instinct would be perfect for little Manno.
It is really important Manno feels safe and happy in his new environment. We want to install hanging ropes for him to swing on, a hammock for him to rest and enrichment puzzles and trough feeders. We also would like to make an artificial termite mound so he can practice the ‘fishing’ behavior of his wild relatives. He requires a diet rich in vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and minerals. He also still needs milk. We’re trying to raise $5,000.