Last week saw a very special moment for all of us at Tacugama when we were finally able to release Solo back into one of our enclosures.
Solo is a very intelligent chimp with excellent civil engineering skills who was becoming too adept at finding ways to defeat the electric fencing that surrounds the enclosures. You can read more about his story here. As he was rapidly becoming a full grown adult it unfortunately was no longer safe for him, our staff and visitors for him to remain in the outdoor enclosures. We had no choice but for him to stay inside the dens normally used just as overnight accommodation until we could raise sufficient funds to build a more secure enclosure. Initial plans for a roofed enclosure proved extremely expensive and after talking to several other sanctuaries we settled on an alternative design that we implemented with the help of Paul Hammond of Captive Wildlife Solutions.
It’s taken three years from when we first confined Solo to the dens to being finally able to release him back outside. The construction of his enclosure is part of an overall enclosure expansion programme that we’ve desperately needed as our chimps grow in size and number but it’s not been easy to raise the funds required. We were finally able to place an order for the specialist fencing materials earlier this year – they all had to be imported into Sierra Leone – and the hard work of building the enclosures and night dens has been taking place since the materials arrived from South Africa.
Solo is the first chimp to benefit but very soon we’ll be able to move two more groups into improved forested areas, freeing up space for all of our younger chimps to move into bigger enclosures. All of us at Tacugama are extremely happy to see Solo outside once again, it was never an easy decision to confine him. We would like to say an enormous thank you to all our donors who’ve helped raise funds for the enclosures, and especially to Lyndal Davies from Rockwallaby Productions; without her generosity Solo would still be inside. We’ve also received great support from Cape Wire in South Africa and Bernd Eckhardt.
We hope you enjoy these photographs of Solo enjoying his new enclosure.