This young chimpanzee is one of the most recent cases of endangered animal trafficking on our borders. She was captured in the wild and smuggled into Spanish territory by boat, arriving at the port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with three more infants whose whereabouts are unknown. She had bruises on her face and back. A worker of the port decided to “save” her and took her into his care, without knowing the full implications of keeping a wild animal in his home.
When Africa began to approach adolescence, family life for the caretaker became impossible. Every day that passed, Africa became more and more dominant and began to attack the women of the house. For this reason, the couple decided to build a room on their terrace to keep Africa locked away for many hours of the day.
When she arrived at MONA, Africa’s head and shoulders were completely bald, red, scaly and infected due to complications from a previous head injury. Because of this, she had been rejected by several zoos when her owners had tried to place her. Africa was also missing hair in various areas of her hands, feet, and arms due to hair plucking caused by stress or boredom. MONA discovered that her head injuries were treatable, and after several treatments a day, her hair began to sprout again and the redness subsided.
When we started with Africa’s integration into the group, she was so afraid of the other chimpanzees that she kept screaming, sometimes so much that she would vomit.
After overcoming all the problems of integration, Africa is now not afraid of anything or anyone. The change came suddenly during one of the associations. Instead of reacting with fear to Sara (another chimp), she greeted her warmly. From that moment on, she mastered the tactics of social living. She has a gift of always getting what she wants from others by easily manipulating her peers. Every reaction is exaggerated by Africa, whether positive or negative; hence her nickname, the “Drama Queen”!
GROUP AND SITUATION
She belongs to the Mutamba group and her position in the hierarchy depends very much on her alliances. She is gifted with an ability to establish social relationships that benefit her and she always ends up being the boss in the shadow – all of that with just 37 kilos!
- She does not like meat and is the only chimpanzee at MONA eating tuna as a source of animal protein in the diet.
- She loves laying in the hammocks hanging under the platforms, manipulating earth and greeting new people, either in a friendly or not so friendly manner.
- When Africa greets the other chimpanzees she does it in a very exaggerated manner, with shouts and loud hoots. The others didn’t understand this greeting until they got to know her and learned her behaviour.
- Africa greets her caregivers with a spit followed by a kiss which, of course, they find puzzling!
She is part of the group we call the Mutamba.*
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