Over the last few weeks we’ve been gradually introducing Gaura and his group to the small infant enclosure that is being used by another seven small chimpanzees. The older babies were brought inside each day for a couple of hours to allow Gaura’s team to get used to the new space on their own and the end of last week finally saw both groups being introduced together and sharing the enclosure.
Tess Wiggans – a volunteer who has been at Tacugama since May – writes more about their introduction below, she’s taken some great photos for you! Tess will help us to stay in touch with you and will write some more of our blogs over the coming months:
The youngest group of chimps, consisting of Gaura, Tombo, Jessica, Mac, Banyaii, Bruno and Yoyema are finally having more freedom. The babies were first introduced to the two youngest in the group, Chica and Joyce along with Nita, a very gentle female. The first meeting couldn’t have gone smoother, with Joyce making friends with Jessica right from the start, and Nita acting as foster mother to the youngest ones!
Chica was a little hesitant at first, not interacting much with the newcomers. Once she realised how much fun she could be having she began to play with her new friends!
After the babies were used to playing with the gentlest of the bigger chimps, Alex and Bidi were introduced. Their rough and tumble was a little bit rougher! Bidi took like a duck to water with the youngsters, carrying Yoyema everywhere she went. Alex wasn’t quite so caring and his communication involved a smack on the back for most of the babies!
Even thought Tombo is one of the smallest, she was having none of a playful attack on her and her friends from Alex – she gave as good as she got, and Alex realised he should be careful when Gaura came to Tombo’s aid. You can see how brave Tombo was on this video clip:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/o2kvZv3j0d8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Finally the next day Spana and Bimbo, the older ones thought to cause the most trouble, were added to the mix to finish the integration. Gaura made an intelligent move and started to make allies with Spana, whilst Bimbo lived up to the assumption he would play rough, not letting the youngsters out of his grip!
The two groups are continuing to sleep in their own separate dens; they are not yet at the stage to be left alone with no supervision! However Joyce has now become so attached to Jessica, she refuses to sleep in her own den and is now sleeping with the babies, sharing a hammock with Jessica.
The group are settling into their routine, deciding who to make friends with and who to avoid. Everyone at Tacugama is over the moon to see the babies enjoying their space to play on a daily basis. We’re still working hard behind the scenes to get funding for new enclosures so that these growing chimps can have a close to natural environment.