He was purchased in the 90s, along with a female, by his former owner who acquired them legally through an intermediarywho bought them from a circus when they were about 10 years old because they were no longer needed. We know nothing of his life in the circus, only that the correct papers existed. (Spanish laws still allow private collectors, circuses and trainers that rent to television programs to keep potentially dangerous, extremely social and intelligent animals in danger of extinction such as chimpanzees).
Once acquired by his past owner, he lived for 20 years in a purpose built cage on the grounds of his house in a village near Girona.
Tom did not live alone, but alongside two females in an adjoining cage, Coco and Bea. It wasn’t possible for them to always be together because Tom would attack them out of frustration and boredom. He was the first of the three to arrive at MONA.
Tom’s former owner’s situation is one of a few exemplary cases because he had legal permission to keep two of the three chimpanzees. After meeting repeatedly with wildlife experts of FAADA (foundation of assistance and action in the defence of animals) and MONA, he agreed to hand them over and promised to help us financially for their lifetime of care.
Tom is a very nervous chimpanzee, who gets especially over excited with food. After a few weeks of settling into his new environment, we began his associations into the male group, but without success as both Marco and Bongo rejected him. Since 2013 he has become part of the family group and although he has ventured into the outside facilities alone, so far he refuses to with the other members of the family and is content to view them from the open tunnel.
GROUP AND SITUATION
Tom belongs to the family group but is still in the process of adaptation. He doesn’t like to get things wrong with anyone and he’s not afraid of them, but neither has he been intimate with anyone enough to have close ties.
- He loves lettuce, fruit and the rice balls given as the carbohydrate of the dinner but is not so keen on potato and won’t eat meat.
- He loves creating a big straw nest at bedtime and especially likes to completely cover himself with blankets.
- When Tom is nervous he stands up, grabs onto the bars and vigorously swings from side to side.
- When Tom can break something, he’ll break it. With his teeth he has destroyed many enrichments and even hard rubber toys (Kongs) that the other chimpanzees have been using for years.
- When Tom first went out to the outdoor enclosure he was scared and because of this he became the only chimp in the history of MONA to touch the electric wire fence more than once.
He is part of what we call The Family Group. 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 who have been rejected by the group of males.