Today, the 28th of June 2019, marks a very important day in the Mona calendar. It is 10 years since Mona rescued a wild born, female chimpanzee, Africa. She was captured from the wild and smuggled into Spain by boat. When she arrived in Spain she had bruises on her face and back, and a port worker decided to ‘save’ her and take her into his care, without knowing the full implications of keeping a wild animal in his home.

Head Keeper Talk
To help celebrate this milestone we conducted an interview with one of MONA’s first caregivers, Alba Gomara. Alba has worked with the primates at MONA from almost the very beginning, so knows Africa extremely well. We took this opportunity to look back over the past 10 years but also to look to the future.

What’s the biggest improvement you’ve seen in Africa?
When Africa first arrived we thought that her rehabilitation was going to be very difficult, as she was born in the wild, was highly humanised and hadn’t seen another chimp since being taken from the wild as a baby. Prior to her rescue she still had daily physical contact with her owners and they had developed strong emotional bonds.
The process of introducing her to other chimpanzees was slow, however she was curious. Once her other issues were addressed, such as her diet and medical problems, her rehabilitation started moving quickly. At the start she wouldn’t touch the floor and was scared of the straw, as she had never seen it before, but she soon learnt that it was not scary at all.
Soon Africa became a very intelligent and social chimp; she knows how to work the social hierarchy. For example, she created relationships with all the chimps and knew which chimps to make strong relationships with; she has a very good social strategy.
So the biggest improvement i’ve seen in her is definitely her social skills.

What’s is your favourite memory of her?
My favourite memory of Africa is the first time she groomed another chimpanzee, Romie. Romie was a very experienced chimpanzee, so she knew to remain calm and act like she didn’t care that Africa was there, and it worked!

What are your hopes for her future?
I hope that Africa just keeps being Africa. She has amazing social skills and knows how to work the hierarchy.

Celebrations at Mona

Keepers are planning some special enrichment for Mutamba to help Africa, her group mates and of course the humans of Mona to celebrate this special day.


  • Help secure a lifelong future for all the primates at Mona by donating just £2 per month…
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