At Tacugama we try to create as natural an environment as possible for the chimpanzees. An important part of this is establishing groups that recreate the natural family hierarchies that exist in the wild – a tough job when our chimps come from all over Sierra Leone.
Mama Lucy’s group out in the enclosure
Today we’d like you to meet Mama Lucy’s Group – 27 boisterous young chimps between 5 and 12 years of age. In chimp years these are adolescents. The queen of the group is Mama Lucy. She is playful, easy going and takes good care of all the little ones, particularly Chota who needs special attention. Joke is the biggest male of the group, at the moment smaller than Lucy but he will surely takeover dominance as he becomes a fully adult male.
The three troublesome ones are Marc, Nyanda and Melanie, who sleep separately in one den to avoid conflicts with the others at bedtime. (We bring all the younger chimpanzees in every evening but in the older groups many of the chimps nest and sleep outside.) Mama Lucy sleeps with the smaller guys where she keeps any bullying in check, but only after she has taken as many bananas as she needs for herself! Like in a school playground, the bigger kids will sometimes pick on the smaller ones, in this case biting them and stealing their food. The main culprit for this used to be Rebecca, but if Lucy’s around she doesn’t dare to misbehave. Lucy usually lets the little ones get their milk first in the morning. Maybe because she is too lazy to wake up… in the mornings she is usually to be found curled up, stretching and yawning, while the others are already up and playing around her.
After the morning, milk we let them out through the tunnel into their forest enclosure. This is always a time for fun, greeting each other with kisses and hugs and running around in the tunnel and dens making the staff chase after them before they get their morning meal. After that it’s off into the forest.
This is a very playful group and there is always something happening. We keep you in touch with their antics in future posts!
Little Gaura is still not fully well so it was time for a chest x-ray to rule out any chest infection, especially tuberculosis. Bala, Rosa and Posseh accompanied Gaura to the hospital and of course the hospital staff were more than happy to assist us. We are now waiting for the report to decide what the next steps are but he’s still cheerful.