Why is it that a human having a monkey sidekick has always been shown in a positive light? Abu from Disney’s Aladdin was always there to help get his human friend out of a bind and Chim Chim, the chimpanzee pet of Speed’s younger brother in Speed Racer, played a similar role. Even though Ma-Ti from Captain Planet saved his monkey companion, Suchi, from certain death, the truth is that he would be better off being raised in a sanctuary rather than going on globetrotting adventures to put a stop to monstrous-looking human polluters. The reality of having a monkey or ape as a companion is a lot more grim than cartoons have lead us to believe.
Chimpanzees are among the most intelligent and complex apes alive — they are so close to us humans that we share around 90 percent of the same DNA. In spite of our similarities, chimpanzees are unfortunate victims of human cruelty. These dignified and complex animals are subjected to cruel scientific experiments, life in circuses and zoos, habitat loss, and poaching, all at the hands of humans. Chimps who are victims of poaching either end up being sold as meat or they are sold into the illegal pet industry. We might want to believe that chimps in captivity don’t understand as much about their situations as we do, but when we look at the survivors, like baby Jenny in the photos below, their understanding becomes all too clear.
When Jenny was saved from a lifetime as an illegal pet, she spent her entire journey to Mefou Sanctuary curled up on the floor. She had been so neglected by her guardian that she rejected all human contact.
After a week of letting Jenny take things at her own pace, this baby chimp started to open up. She started sitting in her new caretaker’s lap. According to Ape Action Africa, “Jenny has a very sweet face but behind it is a steely determination and a strong will.”
Life for Jenny will always be a different experience from that of a wild chimp, but soon, she’ll be able to interact with other infant chimps and form social bonds.
Unfortunately, we do not know what happened to baby Jenny’s mother, but thanks to the amazing people at Mefou Sanctuary, she’s alive and well. Raising a baby chimp requires extensive round-the-clock care, veterinary attention, and plenty food and exercise to help her grow strong.
All image source: Ape Action Africa/Facebook