After his birth in the freedom of the jungle he was taken from his mother as a baby and sold to a couple in France as a pet. After a few years of living in their house as an infant, upon reaching his teenage years he was locked in a cage and later relocated to a public park in the city of Nancy which houses a collection of all sort of animals. There he lived in solitude until the age of 24. People visiting the park were throwing him junk food and cigarettes on a daily basis.
When Victor first arrived here he was obese and lacking muscle tone because his former owners castrated him as a youngster which made him more docile as well as a lack of stimulation and exercise in the place where he was living. He had to adopt the use of his mouth to climb because his arms and legs were so weak.
Victor had a great attachment to a blanket which he constantly hugged and rocked with. Also as a symptom of chronic stress he had an obsession with food which he regurgitated and swallowed again and again .
Victor had seen other chimpanzees only a few times before and this was always traumatic for him, so his first associations at MONA were very difficult. He constantly screamed for help from his caregivers and during the first months he lost a lot of weight.
It took him over a year to venture outside to the family group’s enclosure (see the video here) and even then only to the areas with cement close to the tunnels. It took three years in all to be able to join the group.
Victor is now one of the most sociable and loving chimpanzees. He loves playing with and tickling Africa (see video here), and enjoys a good catch-up. Every day when he goes outside he greets the other chimpanzees with a big hug. A great start to his day!
He is still a glutton for food and although he lost a lot of weight at first, he still has a considerable belly, because his castration. Unfortunately his behavior of regurgitation has not disappeared, but his rocking has reduced considerably. Sometime he even ventures to the outside without a blanket!
GROUP AND SITUATION
Victor is trying to be more involved in the group and to be accepted, whether it means playing or fighting. He is not interested in acquiring a place of power, only to live in peace and be someone to kiss and hug every day.
- He goes crazy with impatience for meatballs and hot vegetable soup. All food is great to him, whether to forage or attain from an enrichment device.
- He enjoys a cosy nest on his platform, made with lots of straw and topped off with a blanket.
- When Victor is faced with an unfamiliar situation he is very frightened and his fear can lead him to lose control and become aggressive.
- When Victor’s things are not as he likes them he becomes easily frustrated so his caregivers need to have a little care and patience with him.
- When Victor is offered a blanket at bedtime, if it’s not red and smelling good, he’ll return it to the caregivers for another one.
- When Victor embraces the other chimpanzees he expects the gesture to be mutual, if not, he just hugs them round the waist.
- When Victor is very focused on playing or manipulating objects, he sticks his tongue out with concentration.
- When Victor came to MONA he only understood French so the vet had to speak his language to let him treat his wounds.
He lives as part of the group 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 chimps are related.
The idea of this group is for the integration of newly rescued females or males who have been rejected by the male group.