Soon Zoo staff, including veterinarian Dr Kimberley Vinette-Herrin, will be heading to the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Sanctuary to help chimpanzees rescued from poachers and the pet industry.
Mr Kerr said: “This is the latest chapter in a long partnership that began with our contribution to the global Chimpanzoo research project and continued with our joint involvement in Uganda’s N’Gamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.”
“Not only is the Zoo contributing funds raised by our Taronga Foundation to Tchimpounga, which is the Africa’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary, but we are also providing expert advice on the ground, sending specialists in veterinary science, behavioural research and capital works. Dr Vinette- Herrin is scheduled to conduct over 60 general examinations and we’ll be looking at other staff placements and partner projects to help.”
Dr Goodall said in June: “With this, we will be able to move faster towards securing operational support for Chimpanzee rescue and reintroduction, building a new island sanctuary for unreleaseable chimpanzees, upgrading the original site as a quarantine centre and staging site for the release program, expanded law enforcement to stop illegal great ape hunting and developing an Education Centre catering for 2000 plus students per year.
Tchimpounga was established in 1992 by JGI and the Congolese Ministerie de le Economie Forestiere (MEF) to hold 60 orphaned or rescued chimpanzees. There are now over 140 chimpanzees in care at the site 35 km north of Point Noire, Congo’s second largest city. The sanctuary includes dry open savannah, densely wooded gorges, flood plains and mangroves. There is heavy bushmeat pressure to supply markets in the nearby city of Pointe Noir, but things have improved since the area was protected.
The Zoos’ funding will help with re-construction and expand the centre’s capacity. The TCRC was established in The Congo in 1992 to rehabilitate orphaned chimpanzees. Originally designed for 60 chimpanzees, it now houses 141.
Taronga’s work with the JGI has included support of Dr Goodall’s Roots and Shoots Youth Program, founding partnership for the N’gamba Chimpanzee Refugee on an island in Lake Victoria and contribution to the global Chimpanzoo Observational research project.