He was born in a lorry in Valencia, where his mother Romie and father Toni lived locked inside for many years.His former owner was a trainer of chimpanzees for use in TV shows and advertising. Nico was soon separated from his mother to start being coached for use on television.
He came to Mona with his sister Sara to be reunited with Romie, but unfortunately they showed no recognition of each other and they could not recover their mother-child relationship.
Nico came to MONA at 3 years old, so young but already with a long list of bad experiences behind him. He came with serious psychological problems that led to the self-harm of his left hand in order to attain the attention of his caregivers. This continued for two years and due to the irreparable damage, amputation of the little and ring finger of his left hand was therefore inevitable. In late 2005 it was discovered that Nico is the first nonhuman primate to suffer from Chiari Malformation, a condition classified as rare in humans. In early 2006 a team of neurosurgeons, Dr.Rimbau and Dr. De la Fuente, operated successfully on Nicos’ brain at the veterinary clinic Canis, and since then his condition has greatly improved. Once recovered from the operation, he stopped demanding the attention of humans. But he was not without problems, because although since his operation he has stopped self-harming, he has hydrosyringomyelia, the pathology of which causes a lack of pain sensation in the extremities. So after trying everything, including an autograft, in August 2008 we had no choice but to amputate the index and middle fingers which prompted his peculiar way of moving. Despite all this he can do pretty much everything you would expect from another chimpanzee of his age.
Nico has become a teenager who enjoys displaying towards the males in our other group of chimpanzees, but overall you could say he has a gentle character, is never in a bad mood and usually avoids getting into trouble. He behaves well with, and is affectionate with everyone, chimpanzee or human.
He is prone to wounds from time to time, but is very cooperative with his caregivers during treatment and seems to enjoy it.
GROUP AND SITUATION
Nico belongs to the family group and which has an unclear hierarchy right now. Some days he seems to be the alpha male and other days he acts like he has no idea and is only interested in eating and enjoying a quiet, peaceful life.
- Nico is still very interested people and enjoys greeting people who come to visit. He loves them all!
- He also loves brightly coloured fabrics and will always manipulate pieces offered to him and keep them at hand for many hours. He generally likes and tests any new addition to their facilities.
- Unusually for chimps he likes to get wet, soaking his head under the watering can when extra fluids are given in the summer.
- There is nothing in his diet that he doesn’t eat, everything is received with joyous vocalizations.
- When Nico goes into his bedroom for dinner, he always take a few minutes more than the others because he likes to make one last lap of the enclosure alone. When he finally decides that he is ready to enter, he lets you know by making loud vocalizations of joy from a few metres away .
- When Nico first meets a new chimpanzee, he’s not as friendly as usual and tries to intimidate with displays of force. Satisfied with his initial representation he is then a very sociable and kind chimpanzee.
- When Nico met his father, (yes, Nico ‘s father Toni also lives in Mona) although neither shows recognition of this. They both belong to different groups here but one day we decided to put them together to spend a few hours playing together. It was great for us caregivers to watch!
- Nico loves to spin round really fast on his back, with legs in the air on the shiny areas of the platforms in the bedrooms. It’s surprising he’s not ill from the dizziness!
His group is what we call The Family. It is a mixed group, consisting of three males (two adults and a teenager) and two teenage females. Despite the name of the group, we do not believe that any of the chimpanzees are related.
The idea of this group is for the integration of newly rescued females and/or males which have been rejected by the group of males.