After more than a year of struggle, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and its legal counterpart PEGAS have made history by brokering the release of a young chimp from the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq. The chimp in question is named Manno and he is barely four years old. Manno was born in captivity in the Damascus zoo and like most captive chimps, his life was far from what he deserved. He was almost immediately ripped from his mother’s loving embrace and smuggled out of Syria and into Iraq, where he was purchased for $15,000 by a private zoo. From 2013 up to today, Manno was forced to dress up and perform for the zoo’s patrons and used as a prop for photos.
Manno’s luck changed when a Canadian, Spencer Sekyer, saw the young chimp in a cage and decided to help. He eventually got in touch with Jane Goodall who was speaking near his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta. She was moved by Sekyer’s story and contacted the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and attempted to coordinate a rescue – but this was a logistic nightmare. The Islamic state occupied the territory adjacent to the one Manno was trapped in and on top of that, they had to go the Iraqi’s bureaucracy and the Kurdish Regional Government’s red tape. But, through sheer force of will, Manno was released this morning and is on his way to Kenya.
This was the cage Manno was kept in. According to Ol Pejeta, “The only time he has been allowed out of his cage is when he is dressed up in clothes and used as a photo prop for paying zoo visitors.”
He was also forced to eat sweet and drink soda. “The alien diet gives Manno constant diarrhea, but allowing visitors to feed him is a money earner.”
But after a long struggle, Manno is finally free.
And Spencer came back to Iraq and was there to greet Manno when he was released.
He is currently on his way to his new home at The Sweetwater Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Kenya.
Where he can live out his days in peace.
Manno’s story is an incredible one but there are still many more animals like him that are forced to live out their lives suffering in captivity. We can all help make a difference for captive animals by refusing to attend zoos or any other facility that profits from keeping animals in cages.
Visit the Ol Pejeta website to learn more about their mission and what you can do to help.