Ajabu means ‘surprise’ in Kiswahili, and that is exactly what this baby
chimpanzee was! No one was aware that her mother, Mwanzo, was
pregnant when Ajabu was born on 30th March 2008. She is the first of the
second generation of chimpanzees born at Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, and was the lone baby in the group for a long time. She is doted on by all the other chimpanzees has grown up to be a very nice, even-tempered chimpanzee. Ajabu is abundant with energy and usually engages in active playing with almost every chimpanzee. Ajabu is now a mother to a male chimpanzee named Jobo, who was born on 2nd February 2018.
Akeela, a victim of the wildlife trade, was kept in a small cage in an
apartment as a pet for children. It was first thought she suffered from some
kind of neurological problem as her behaviour was very unusual and she
seemed unsteady and uncoordinated. When Akeela first arrived at the
Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary she was insecure but over time she
has grown in confidence and is now a relaxed, happy chimpanzee who
loves to play with the babies and has taken on the role of foster mother
to Jane and Manno. Akeela is a very nice chimpanzee and will readily
welcome new members into the group.
Ali Kaka was kept as a pet by the army in south Sudan. In 2003, when
Ali Kaka was just 11/2 years old, the soldiers heard chimpanzees were
being rescued and sent to Kenya. One of the soldiers carried Ali Kaka on
his shoulders all the way to the town of Yambio to get him on a flight to
Kenya. When he first came to Sweetwaters, Ali Kaka was very fearful of
noise made by planes flying above the sanctuary but with time he learned
to get used to them. Ali Kaka is such a sweet, kind-natured chimpanzee
who loves to clap his hands and perform somersaults to get attention.
He has developed amazing social ties, gets along with everyone at the
Sanctuary, and is currently the alpha male after continuous and difficult
power takeover fights that cost him a toe.
Alley is one of the few chimpanzees at the Sweetwaters Sanctuary who
came from a good home. From her private home, she was taken to the
Jane Goodall Institute in Burundi, and from there she made her way to
Kenya. Alley is one of the smartest chimpanzees at the Sanctuary and
has mastered the art of using stick tools. She is also quite a mischievous
escape artist, and claps or spits when she wants something. She knows
how to keep us on our toes! Alley is one of the best nannies for the group,
as well as a wonderful groomer, and can often be found caring for the
Amahirwe came to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary from Rwanda,
where he had spent four years under the care of some people running
a research station at Karisoke. He was originally confiscated at Kigali
Airport in 2001 when somebody tried to check him in as excess luggage
to Belgium! When Amahirwe arrived in Kenya, he was quarantined at
the KWS Headquarters before being brought to Sweetwaters. Amahirwe
was very shy when he first got here but has developed really well and is
now one of the high-ranking males. He is a very social chimpanzee who
doesn’t like to be alone and can always be found in a large group.
Amizero, ‘Ami’ for short, means hope in Kirundi. Ami was found at the
same residence as Sultana. She was found sitting in a pool of diarrhea
and vomit, dehydrated, thin and critically ill. For the next 24 hours she
was placed on a drip and was on the brink of death. However, her health
gradually improved and she found a new lease of life at Sweetwaters.
Ami has grown to be a caring character and one of the high-ranking
females in the group with William being her best male friend. She uses
her position to maintain peace among the chimpanzees.
Angela was as much of a surprise as her older sister Ajabu. Born on
25th April 2011, no one was aware her mother Mwanzo was pregnant
as she was on contraceptives. She is a very cheerful chimpanzee who
loves to have fun and everyone always wants to play with her, even big
high-ranking males! While playing, Angela often incites fights and creates
chaos in the group. Mwanzo is a great mother and Angela has grown into
a very happy and healthy chimpanzee. Angela is still very attached to her
mother and grandmother.
Bahati means ‘lucky’ in Kiswahili. In July 1994, Bahati was found by a
local Burundian tied to a wooden post in a small mud hut, apparently up
for sale. The vendor offered to sell Bahati to the Jane Goodall Institute in
Burundi, where the authorities were called and he was arrested. Bahati
was taken into their care and her health quickly improved. She was
brought to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in 1996. In her early
years at the Sanctuary, Bahati was an escape artist who used to find
her way to the staff quarters and control offices. She is a low ranking
chimpanzee and stays by herself sometimes to avoid conflict. She is very
inquisitive and Manno’s best female friend.
Bella is a shy and sensitive female who found herself an orphaned victim
of bushmeat hunting and target of the exotic pet trade. She was seized
in the south of Guinea-Bissau in 2017 from a trafficker and was kept at
a military post in poor conditions. She was two years old female then. The authorities desperately tried to find a sanctuary to relocate Bella and contacted Ol Pejeta. After more than two years of work, Bella finally touched down on Kenyan soil at 5:13 a.m. on 26th April 2018 - along with Bo - and was relocated to Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
Bo was seized by the Guinea-Bissau authorities in April 2015 when she
was about two years old from a man in Cantanhez Forest National Park
who intended to sell her after he killed her mother for bushmeat. She was
handed over to the Instituto da Biodiversidade e das Áreas Protegidas(IBAP, the national organisation responsible for managing the protected areas in Guinea-Bissau) and was kept at Cufada Lagoon National Park offices in Buba. The authorities in the Park desperately tried to find a sanctuary to relocate Bo and contacted Ol Pejeta. After more than two years of work, Bo finally touched down on Kenyan soil at 5:13 a.m. on 26th April 2018 and was relocated to Sweetwaters.
Cheetah was purchased as an infant from a Congolese vendor by a
Belgian couple living in Bujumbura. They purchased her in an attempt to
improve her health as she was a very small and sick infant. After three
years they gave her up to the Jane Goodall Institute in Burundi. Cheetah
is a friendly chimpanzee and the other females in the group respect her.
She is very social and has proven to be a good foster mother to Zee and
Ajabu. Cheetah is calm and avoid anything that would lead to a fight. She
loves attention and will spit at you to get it.
Origin: Democratic Republic of Congo
Chipie means ‘spoiled, cheeky woman’ in French. On 15th July 1992
Chipie was confiscated at Kigali airport in Rwanda together with an
Eastern Lowland Gorilla baby as they were being illegally exported
from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were both kept at the
Volcano Veterinary Centre in Rwanda until 19th November 1992 when
Chipie was taken to the Jane Goodall Institute in Burundi. When she
eventually arrived at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, she was
psychologically stressed, insecure, and had a severe fear of men. She
has been getting better each year and now loves to climb very high trees,
often sitting there even through heavy downpours. Chipie is extremely
close to Amizero and follows her wherever she goes.
Dufatanye, ‘Dufa’ for short, means ‘co-operation’ in Kirundi. Dufa was
confiscated by the authorities in a suburb of Bujumbura on 6th June
1992 as a local businessman tried to sell her off. She was very afraid
and expressed this by biting everything and everybody in sight. As a
result she earned the nickname ‘black fur ball with teeth’. Dufa has since
calmed down and is a very strong-willed character. She gets along well
with all the chimpanzees but is especially close to Manno and William.
Edward was one of five chimpanzees that were confiscated at the Jomo
Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on 31st January 2005, along
with Julia, Jane, Romeo and Victoria. As soon as they were found,
the chimpanzees were taken to the KWS Veterinary Unit for health
examinations and quarantine. All five chimpanzees were in very bad
physical condition, severely malnourished and dehydrated. The origin of
these chimpanzees is not known for sure but it is thought that they may
have come from Cameroon. Edward and Julia were the bigger of the
five, both about four years old when they were confiscated. They joined
in easily with the rest of the youngsters at the sanctuary.Edward has a happy disposition. He hates fights and avoids confrontation at all cost. He is a close friend to Zee.
George was found bundled up in barbed wire for sale on the side of
a road in Mozambique. He was taken to South Africa and from there
was brought to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. He arrived at
Sweetwaters on 31st May 2005 in good health and was mentally very
strong and secure. He was not used to other chimpanzees and appeared
very lonely in the beginning. He had a troubled integration, was a lone
ranger and never respected the alpha male, a trait he still holds to
date. George is quite playful with abundant energy and can always be
found running wild with playmates Amahirwe and Julia. He is second in
command in hierarchy to Ali Kaka whom he is constantly challenging.
George is also very close to Poco and doesn’t enter the sleeping house
Jane was one of five chimpanzees that were confiscated at the Jomo
Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on 31st January 2005. Along
with Julia, Edward, Romeo and Victoria, Jane was taken to the KWS
Veterinary Unit for tests and quarantine. She had a shot-gun pellet
lodged in her middle finger on the right hand. The pellet was removed
through minor surgery soon after she arrived at Sweetwaters. The five
infant chimpanzees were severely malnourished and dehydrated, and a
lot of work was put into improving their health. Jane was successfully
introduced into one of the adult groups where she has Joy as a playmate
and Akeela as a surrogate mother. Jane has a habit of capturing baby
bushbucks and warthogs and tries to care for them.
Joy was born at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary and is the
daughter of Tess and former alpha male Niyonkuru. Although the
pregnancy was unplanned, her arrival brought a positive change to
the group and brought them closer together. The whole group is very
protective of Joy, with the females constantly enjoying the opportunity
to carry her and groom her, but never away from the watchful eye of her
mother. Joy loves giving rides to Manno. She is one of the senior females
due to her supportive mother Tess who is the highest-ranking female.
Judy was confiscated in Mombasa, along with two other chimpanzees
that were found in transit with a person who claimed he had found them
abandoned in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Judy and the other
chimpanzees were taken to the orphanage in Nairobi where they lived
until Judy was brought to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in
1993. Judy appears to have suffered from polio as a baby, and as a result
has a withered leg. However, this has not stopped her from turning into
a healthy adult chimpanzee who is mother to Oscar. She is supportive
of her son and will always give him a hand in times of need. Judy can
always be found close to Oscar grooming him or just looking out for him.
Julia was one of five chimpanzees that were confiscated at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on January 31, 2005. Along with Edvard, Jane, Romeo and Victoria, Julia was taken to the KWS veterinary unit for tests and quarantine. Julia had to initially be treated with antibiotic injections for a week, for acute pneumonia. Julia was one of the bigger chimps of the five, being about 2 years old when they were confiscated, and is a sort of protector to younger chimps to this day. Julia is very playful, hunting bush bucks and warthogs and using them as dolls.
Kisazose, 'Kiza' for short, means 'protection of everything' in Kirundi. He arrived at the Jane Goodall Institute in Burundi on the 11th of October 1994, having been confiscated from a Zairian vendor. When he arrived at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, he was very ill; malnourished, dehydrated, anaemic and covered in lice. He also had a very poor appetite but with proper care he has slowly recovered. Kiza is very strong-minded and lets you know when he doesn't like something. Like his name, he is a protector and always guards his group from baboons and warthogs.
Manno arrived at Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary on 30th November 2016, after being rescued from Duhok Zoo in Erbil, Iraq. He had been kept at the zoo as a photo prop for three years and had been fed an alien diet that gave him constant diarrhea. After a concerted two-year campaign to
rescue him, Manno finally gained his freedom after the intervention of the Kurdistan Prime Minister who decreed he be transferred to Sweetwaters. After finishing his mandatory quarantine, Manno is a darling to most of
the females who take turns to give him rides. Akeela takes the roles of a
surrogate mother while Dufa, Bahati and Joy are excellent nannies.
Mary arrived at Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary from southern
Sudan together with Eva and Saidia in October 2003. She had a very large
tummy and would not stop eating. She had been found in the market for
sale and was confiscated by the authorities. Mary was very insecure for
a long time and tended to cling to people. She is now strong willed and
one of the senior females. She even spits on the Sanctuary staff when
she is angry. She interacts well with the other chimpanzees though she
can be quite bossy. Mary, Max and Saidia are extremely close and can
always be found together.
Max spent his first years with a French film crew from whom he was confiscated in 1990. When he first arrived at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary his physical condition was poor and he was very nervous and aggressive. His insecurities led him to form a close and special relationship with the night watchman- to this day he gravitates toward men in uniform. Max tends to be solitary; however, he has developed close ties with Socrates and they can sometimes be found sitting together. Max also has a bit of a naughty streak and sometimes ends up in sticky situations!
Mwanzo was born at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Her mother is Sultana and her father is Ndaronse. She was the first baby to be born at Sweetwaters so was appropriately named Mwanzo, which means 'the first' in Kiswahili. Mwanzo's birth had a great impact in helping to bond the group. She is now a mother herself, having given birth to Ajabu on the 30th March 2008 and Angela on 25th April 2011. Mwanzo is very protective of her daughters and gets aggressive when anyone gets too close to them.
‘Niyon’ for short, his name means ‘God is the highest’ in Kirundi.
Niyonkuru was confiscated from a vendor who had gone to the Jane
Goodall Institute in Burundi offering him for sale. He arrived in very poor
physical and mental condition, was depressed and listless, and the rope
used to tether him had made deep wounds on his thighs. Niyonkuru has
since lost his position as the alpha male but is highly respected after
having been an iron fist ruler for 19 years.
Oscar was born at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. His mother
is Judy and his father is Ndaronse, who was the then alpha male. He
looks like his father as they share the same light skin colour. He was
the alpha male in the eastern side group, having ousted his father in a
long power struggle spanning over half a year, until Ali Kaka deposed
him. Muscular and aggressive, Oscar is the ‘bad boy’ of the group. He
still makes unsuccessful efforts to regain the alpha male position with
unwavering support from his mother and a couple of other friends. Oscar
also has a nice streak and will sometimes play with youngster Ajabu.
Oscar’s all-time favorite activity is grooming.
Of all our chimpanzees, Poco’s history is perhaps the most tragic. He
spent the first nine years of his life in a cage suspended above a workshop
in Burundi. Confined and used to attract customers, Poco had so little
space he was only able to sit or stand on two legs - quite unnatural for a
chimpanzee. Even today, Poco will still stand on his hind legs, especially
when showing off to visitors. Poco arrived to Sweetwaters Chimpanzee
Sanctuary in 1995 from Burundi, where it is said he was leader of the
chimpanzee group. He has made great progress in learning how to
knuckle-walk like normal chimpanzees. He really likes people and will
strut or throw sticks to get the attention of visitors. Poco is one of our
more gentle chimpanzees and his bipedal swagger ensures he stands
out from the crowd!
Romeo was one of five chimpanzees that were confiscated at the Jomo
Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on 31st January 2005. Along
with the Julia, Edward, Jane and Victoria, Romeo was taken to the KWS
veterinary unit for tests and quarantine. All five chimpanzees were in
very bad physical condition. Romeo had an old injury of two broken toes
on his left foot and was taken for an X-Ray, but the injury was too old
to treat. The toes eventually healed and he now walks normally. At the
Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Romeo settled in well with the rest
of the group. Romeo is rising up fast in rank after having had a rough
beginning. He is very playful when with his closest friend Roy and Manno.
Origin: Democratic Republic of Congo
Roy was rescued from Rumbek, southern Sudan on 2nd October 2009
and was housed at the KWS quarantine facility for health monitoring and
observation. He was then transferred to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee
Sanctuary on 14th December 2009. He is believed to have originated
from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, probably orphaned by the
illegal bushmeat trade and illegally transported to southern Sudan. He
was confiscated by the Wildlife Conservation Administration of Sudan
and handed over to volunteers who cared for him while a sanctuary was
identified to transfer him to. Roy has adapted wonderfully at Sweetwaters
and is a happy and healthy chimpanzee. He is undaunted and this has
elevated him to the position of a senior male within a very short time, very
playful making friends easily and is extremely good friends with Romeo.
When Safari first arrived at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary his behaviour was understandably neurotic and frantic. He had spent the
first years of his life in a hotel, in a small dark outdoor cage where he was
relentlessly teased by unsympathetic tourists. He was taken to the Jane Goodall Institute in Burundi in 1989 when the hotel manager had to return
to Belgium. As soon as he was introduced to the other chimpanzees at
Sweetwaters, his behaviour changed and he became a happy, playful
and sometimes cheeky chimpanzee. Safari was the first alpha male of
his group and to this day, still a respected male. He spends his time in
retirement with close friends Poco and Socrates.
Saidia arrived at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in October
2004 from Yambio in southern Sudan, along with Mary and Eva. She
was no more than a month old and could not crawl and could hardly
cling on to anything. She had suffered from severe burns on the back
of her head and down her back. The sores were healing but all her hair
had to be shaved off in order to clean and treat the wounds. Saidia had
been brought from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a mango
basket, lying on her back because she could not hold on. The people
who brought her claimed they had found her in the forest. She still has
a bald patch on her back that you can identify her with and is very close
to Mary with whom she spends all her time. Saidia is now a mother to a
male called Pasaka who was born on 31st March 2018.
Like an orphan being passed from one foster home to another, Socrates
spent five years in Bujumbura being passed from home to home. Finally,
the housing at the Jane Goodall Institute was ready and he was taken
there in 1989. He was one of the first chimpanzees to arrive at the
Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in 1993. He was very subdued
and inactive but soon started to recover when he was introduced to the
other chimpanzees. Socrates is definitely the philosopher of the group
preferring to spend time on his own but he also spends time playing with
the babies in the group.
Sultana was taken to the Jane Goodall Institute in Burundi in 1992 after
she was found chained to a tree at the same residence as Amizero. Food
was thrown at her as people were too afraid to go near. When Sultana
first arrived at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary she was terrified of the other chimpanzees and would scream and cling to her keepersthrough the bars of the chimpanzee house. However, she soon settleddown and started to interact with the other chimpanzees. Today she is a very proud mother to our first-born baby, Mwanzo and she is a ferociously protective grandmother to Ajabu and Angela.
Tess was found on sale in a market place in Kenya looking miserable and
malnourished. She was taken and kept as a pet with a family in Kisumu.
Tess came to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in 1995 and is
now a mother to a baby named Joy who was born in 2004. Tess is a
high-ranking female who loves eating and socializing. She protects the
younger chimpanzees in the group and is respected by everyone.
Uruhara means ‘bald’ in Kirundi. Uruhara was kept in a small cage as a
pet. ‘Uru’ as he is affectionately called at Sweetwaters, was in very bad
condition when he arrived and had lost almost all the hair on his head. At
first, he was insecure and frightened but his confidence soon grew as did
his hair. He has the most amazing facial expressions and enjoys making
faces at people. He is the chimpanzee hooting with Jane Goodall in a
famous photograph often shown.
William arrived at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in March 2003. He was rescued from Nimule, a border town between Uganda and Sudan. Before William came to the sanctuary he was kept at a Catholic relief missionary. Although he was kept in a cage, he was properly fed
and watered. William was successfully introduced into the Young Groupin the sanctuary. He is finally the alpha male after going through so much resistance from a community that first viewed him as an outsider.
Origin: United Arab Emirates
Zee was confiscated in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on 30th
January 2002. He only weighed 2kgs and was very dehydrated. He
was eventually brought to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary on 20th June 2002. After regaining health, he was introduced to the other chimpanzees and has never looked back. Zee likes hanging out with
the younger chimpanzees Saidia, Angela and Ajabu to dominate them,
Edward is his best male friend.