Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Congo:
Meet a Jane Goodall Institute care giver

Care Givers are vital in the fight to end poaching and protect endangered chimpanzees. Tchimpounga only exists thanks to their patience, kindness and love. Meet Antonette a very special team member who’s healed hundreds of chimps.

Rescued chimps are stolen from their mothers by poachers, often witness terrible violence and are forced to live in tiny cages with little food. This means the young orphan is in terrible physical and emotional condition on arrival at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Centre.

These tiny infants share 98% of their DNA with humans, so need urgent care to recover from their disturbing ordeal. This is where the Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) incredible local staff step in – especially our brilliant, gifted chimpanzee caregivers.

The VIPs behind the scenes

Tchimpounga would not exist without chimpanzee carers like Antonette. Her dedication and kindness enables the Jane Goodall Institute to give rescued endangered chimps the second chance they deserve. Antonette can only continue her vital work thanks to our generous monthly donors. Together, Chimp Guardians like you from all across the world help make that happen.

Orphan JeJe and his caregiver Antonette at the JGI’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of Congo.

Introducing Antonette

Chimpanzees, like human children, have a long development period and often rely on their mothers until the age of eight or older. They are helpless for six months, dependent on their mothers for two years, and still cling until at least four years old.

When stolen chimps are traumatically torn from their mothers Antonette acts as their surrogate mother. Antonette devotes 24-hour care and affection to these babies when they arrive. Her goal is to make the baby chimpanzee feel protected, safe, and loved, as this early period is crucial for their psychological development. It has been a powerful journey for Antonette, and she has cared for a great many rescued orphans over the years.


Caring through civil war

The Republic of the Congo’s capital of Brazzaville saw tremendous violence during the civil war. At the Brazzaville Zoo, where caregivers from the Aspinall Foundation cared for baby gorillas, both humans and animals were not safe. Therefore the Aspinall Foundation decided to move them to the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Centre to be secure away from the ongoing conflict.

Local resident Antonette was selected by the foundation given her experience to became one of the caregivers. She boldly took on the responsibility of caring for five infant gorillas during the war. With Anonette’s care and commitment to the infant gorillas they survived and were sent to a safe sanctuary to live out their lives in harmony.

Shortly after the war ended, Tchimpounga staff offered her a chimpanzee caregiver job at Tchimpounga, where she has been ever since.

Ebelle is a baby that arrived at Tchimpounga from a small village close to Imphondo city. He was kept as a pet.

Saving a species, one day at a time

A typical work day for Antonette looks very different to many of ours. Her offices are enclosures and forests, her commute is by boat along the Kouilou River and her colleagues include the 140 rescued chimpanzees that rely on her care!

A carer’s day starts with giving the chimps their first meal. For Antonette, looking after Tchimpounga’s youngest orphans, this means bottles of baby formula. 

Antonette found that caring for chimpanzee babies was very similar to caring for gorilla babies. She is a natural. In some ways, she realised, it’s like caring for human babies. Each one needs love, care and attention. Antonette shows patience to help them succeed, guides them to be their best, and ensures they grow up to be healthy, strong, social members of their integrated chimpanzee communities.

Providing a constant sense of love and protection is crucial to the babies’ rehabilitation. Antonette knows that through patience and love she can help the babies be their best. During her many years at Tchimpounga she’s nurtured some of our most traumatised chimps back to health and watched them grow to be strong, socially integrated members of their communities. 

Donate to Tchimpounga

Healing the horrors of poaching

For Antonette her job never stops. Many of the babies come to Tchimpounga anxious and afraid after being violently torn from their mothers as a result of poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking. To help them overcome their deep trauma and suffering, 

Antonette fully embraces her surrogate mother role, dedicating herself to providing round the clock care, just as she did with her own children. This includes sleeping with the infant chimps and waking throughout the night for feedings. 

George, Vienna, Kabi and Tina with JGI caregiver Antonette.

Eat, play, sleep, repeat

Once the chimps have had their fill of food they’re free to relax, play and explore. Antonette escorts the babies to a nearby forest where they can safely climb the trees, splash in the streams and taste the plants under her doting eye.

Providing a constant sense of love and protection is crucial to the babies’ rehabilitation. During her many years at Tchimpounga she’s nurtured some of our most traumatised chimps back to full health.

For Antonette her job never stops. Many of the babies come to Tchimpounga anxious and afraid. To help them overcome their deep trauma and suffering,

Antonette fully embraces her surrogate mother role, dedicating herself to providing round the clock care, just as she did with her own children. This includes sleeping with the infant chimps and waking throughout the night for feedings.

With each chimpanzee, Antonette witnesses the terror and depression they arrive with disappear. This transformation has everything to do with her love, which transcends species.

How you can help

Our Chimp Guardian monthly donors fund the tireless efforts of super heroes like Antonette, who devote themselves to healing Tchimpounga’s rescued chimps. By becoming better informed and taking action through a donation to the Jane Goodall Institute together we can secure a future where wildlife can thrive, forests can return and chimpanzees are no longer endangered.

It’s only thanks to people like you that Antonette’s work is possible: we are so grateful to our Chimp Guardians for their continued, generous support!

Become a Chimp Guardian today

See for yourself below the connection Antonette has with Anzac, and all the other Tchimpounga infants who think of her as Mum:

Dr. Jane Goodall and the Jane Goodall Institute Mark 
60th Anniversary of Wild Chimpanzee Research in Tanzania’s
 Gombe National Park

On this day, sixty years ago, world famous animal behavior expert and conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall & UN Messenger of Peace, first stepped foot in what is now Gombe National Park to begin her pioneering study of the wild chimpanzees. Now, six decades later, having become recognized as Guinness World Records’ longest-running study of wild chimpanzees, and one of the longest-running studies of any wild mammal, Goodall’s research with the chimpanzees of Gombe continues to bring discoveries, spark innovation and instill hope.

In 1960, a young British woman arrived on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania, for the first time. Without realizing it, she would soon change the world forever. Then twenty-six-year-old Goodall was tasked by her mentor Dr. Louis Leakey with being the first to formally observe and better understand our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom: wild chimpanzees. Goodall’s subsequent groundbreaking discoveries revealed remarkable truths about chimpanzee behavior and humankind.

Today, on July 14, 2020, the Jane Goodall Institute marks the 60th anniversary of Goodall’s research. As a trailblazing researcher, Goodall’s discoveries in Gombe and worldwide influence inspired generations across fields, breaking barriers in science and beyond. Dr. Goodall’s example and story spurred a global movement, encouraging scientific expansion and a significant increase in the number of women in STEM fields. Goodall’s living legacy continues to influence many different areas of science for millions of individuals, institutions, organizations, and beyond.

Through groundbreaking research in Gombe spanning 60 years, Goodall, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), and research partners from University of Minnesota, Duke University, University of Arizona and many others have uncovered incredible insights, forever redefining our understanding of human origins and our relationship to the rest of the animal kingdom. Goodall’s recorded observation that chimpanzees make and use tools is considered one of the greatest contributions of the 20th century.

From her early discoveries observing chimpanzee communities in the 1960s to the current descendants, detailed observations of the G, F, and other family lineages have yielded an incredible wealth of knowledge, including chimpanzee mother-infant bonds, compassion, emotionality, intelligence, social hierarchies, meat consumption and hunting, and even primitive warfare,. These insights have shaped not only public understanding of our unique likeness to our closest living relatives but also their innate value as sentient, complex beings, and the need to protect them. The impact of this unique place of discovery spans primate behavior, evolution, health, and ecology with the tremendous possibility for new and important findings.

Through critical work in Gombe and the larger Greater Gombe Ecosystem, Dr. Goodall and the Jane Goodall Institute have not only highlighted the urgent need to protect chimpanzees from extinction, they have also redefined “species conservation” to put human communities at the center. JGI’s innovative community-driven conservation approach, Tacare, utilized around Gombe, and across the chimpanzee range in Africa, is one of the world’s most significant examples of collaboration with local people for species conservation. Through this collaboration, the protection of vital great apes and habitats happens through local ownership of land-use and conservation planning, promoting community development that takes nature into consideration. Honoring 60 years of discovery, JGI is proud to showcase the revolutionary scientific discoveries, community-driven conservation, trailblazing legacy, and exciting future of our work in Gombe.

“It is so hard to believe we have reached this milestone,” said Goodall. “I am so deeply appreciative of all of the students, colleagues, other researchers, local communities, TANAPA, TAWIRI, and the Government of Tanzania and, most importantly, the chimpanzees of Gombe themselves, for helping us get here. Though the pandemic prevents us from marking the anniversary in person together, I look forward to joining with all 23 chapters of the Jane Goodall Institute and our friends over the next year in celebrating virtually, and hopefully one day again in person.”


Motambo’s Story Update – Freedom is calling

You may remember that we recently shared the story of a chimp named Motambo. Motambo arrived at Tchimpounga suffering from the worst injuries we had ever seen. He received intensive, round-the-clock care from the veterinary staff at Tchimpounga and stayed in the hospital ward for two months as he recovered.

With a lot of love, care and attention, Motambo was able to pull through..

After his recovery, Motambo remained weak for some time and was placed in an enclosure with the younger chimpanzees and an older female chimp who was always gentle and caring with new arrivals.

Motambo loved to play with the youngsters, and would act the big brother, ending squabbles and protecting the smallest from the larger, more rambunctious chimps.

Together, we brought him back to life. But being alive is not enough when freedom is waiting out there!

We are thrilled to announce that Motambo’s life has changed once more for the better! Once he was strong enough, Motambo was transferred to Tchibebe Island, one of Tchimpounga’s new island sanctuary sites.

Motambo’s new home is a natural island paradise where he can live wild and free, while still under the protective eye of sanctuary staff. A place he and his fellow rescued chimpanzees can live with dignity after such a traumatic childhood.

For the first time since he as captured by poachers, Motambo is able to roam the forested island with his chimpanzee friends, and live freely, just like he did as a child.

The only reason the Jane Goodall Institute is able to save chimpanzees like Motambo is the support of our members & donors, especially that of our Chimp Guardians.

Becoming a chimp guardian starts at just $25 a month and you will play a vital role ensuring the ongoing care of the chimpanzees at Tchimpounga.

While Motambo’s story has it’s happy ending, there are still many chimps waiting for theirs.

Please consider helping us give other chimpanzees, like Motambo, a second chance, and become a Chimp Guardian today.

Watch the video below to see Motambo and the other chimps experience their new island home for the first time.

We can do it,
but we can’t do it alone.

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World Chimpanzee Day an International Success

We are thrilled to share that the inaugural World Chimpanzee Day on 14 July was a worldwide success! The hashtag #WorldChimpanzeeDay was used thousands of times and the campaign reached millions of people around the globe. Closer to home, JGIA and our partners held WCD events across Australia including JGIA’s Climb for Chimps in NSW and QLD, a screening of JANE the documentary in Melbourne, a t-shirt fundraising campaign in SA,  as well as chimp zookeeper talks and fundraising at Taronga Zoo.

Rockhampton Zoo also celebrated WCD and sent us this fun report from their day “We celebrated with a number of activities including chimp talks on the hour throughout the day. Council staff made up large banners to publicise the day and all the talks were based around the progress made by JGI in Central and Eastern Africa as well as promoting JGI’s mobile phone recycling program. There was a table with examples of humanoid skulls and chimpanzee activity books were given out to children. Outside the zoo, staff held a sausage sizzle and sold merchandise to help raise funds for a Liberian chimpanzee sanctuary.”

On behalf of all of the amazing chimpanzees around the world, thanks to everyone who participated in making this day so special. Please help us keep the momentum high by visiting World Chimpanzee Day and following JGIA’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.

A new baby boy has arrived at Tchimpounga – Meet Kabi!

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Last month, in May, a beautiful baby chimp named Kabi arrived at JGI’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Centre. During a routine patrol, forest guards came upon a small group of poachers who had set up a makeshift camp deep in the forest in northern Congo.

The site was littered with dead animals, skins, and one small, terrified chimpanzee.

While the hunters managed to escape, Kabi, named after a nearby town, Mokabi, was saved. We can only imagine the horror little Kabi must have witnessed.

Thankfully, Kabi had no wounds and was emotionally stable – although he is receiving treatment for intestinal parasites.

Kabi is a strong young chimpanzee and will be given all the love and care that he needs to thrive.

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A caregiver, Cristel, acts as a surrogate mum to Kabi and spends 24 hours a day helping him to heal. Once he moves past this initial period of care, he will be integrated with other chimps where he will be given the social stimulation and community to live happily once more.

Eventually, he may even have the chance to be transferred to one of Tchimpounga’s islands, where he will roam in forests once more with other chimpanzees just like him!

We all want to see Kabi thrive, but only you make that possible.

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Kabi’s life has been difficult, but as we know, Tchimpounga is a place for second chances. With your support, Kabi can have a second chance of a happy and safe life that he deserves.

Donate now to ensure a lifetime of care for Kabi, and help us keep our promise to never turn away a chimp in need.

We can do it,
but we can’t do it alone.

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Motambo’s Story – A Second Chance at Life

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Today we would like to share with you the story of a special chimp named Motambo.

When authorities responded to a tip off about a boat arriving with smuggled cargo they had no idea the cargo would contain a small, sick chimpanzee in desperate need of help. Motambo was rescued from the exotic pet trade by local NGO PALF, and brought to Tchimpounga Sanctuary in a horrific condition.

“When Motambo arrived, suffering from the worst injuries we had ever seen, his condition was so dire we did not think he would survive.”


Motambo is lucky to be alive. All of the chimpanzees living at JGI’s Tchimpounga sanctuary have experienced past trauma, but the injuries inflicted on Motambo by his captors were some of the worst we had ever seen.

Little Motambo, only five years old, was suffering terribly from infected gashes, missing teeth and a broken collar bone and wrist. Worst of all, he couldn’t move his limbs or even open his mouth to eat or drink due to a severe tetanus infection gripping his tiny body.

We believe that the tetanus infection was caused by his wound from a snare trap, which was likely triggered as Motambo walked along the forest floor next to his mother. This is why he was named Motambo, which means snare in the local language, Lingala.

Bringing him back to life was not easy. But Motambo wanted to live.

Motambo received intensive, round-the-clock care from the veterinary staff at Tchimpounga and stayed in the hospital ward for two months while he recovered. Thankfully, the expert care of JGI’s staff was able to save Motambo’s life.

He now lives with other young chimpanzees at Tchimpounga, and has made a full recovery from his injuries. We are so happy that he was strong enough to pull through, but we wish that he had been left in the wild, with his family, where he truly belongs.

Motambo’s life was saved thanks to donations and support from people like you. But there are still many chimps in desperate need of your help.


When orphaned chimpanzees arrive at our Tchimpounga Sanctuary, we give them safe haven and the dedicated care they need for a second chance at life. Unable to be released back into the forest, we make this commitment for their entire lives which is an average of 60 years in captivity.

It takes a tremendous amount of resources to provide these fellow beings—our closest living relatives—with a lifetime of care.

Help us keep our promise of never turning a chimpanzee in need away.

You can help us care for these vulnerable chimpanzees by making a tax-deductible donation today.

We can do it,
but we can’t do it alone.

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Wounda: The Amazing Story of the Chimp Behind the Hug with Dr. Jane Goodall

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As Dr. Jane Goodall discovered nearly 60 years ago, chimpanzees are so like us; complex and intelligent beings sharing much of our emotions like fear, compassion, and love. When considering these traits, one chimpanzee, in particular, stands out: Her name is Wounda. You may have seen Wounda in the Jane Goodall Institute video depicting what Dr. Jane Goodall calls one of the most extraordinary moments of her entire life. This embrace was seen around the world, affecting us on a universal level. Though Jane had just met Wounda, it was clear to both Dr. Goodall and Wounda that we are all connected, and that love lives beyond language or species.

But Wounda’s story did not begin with her meeting of Dr. Goodall, and now there’s a new chapter to her incredible tale…

Video with narration by Pierce Brosnan, created with help from Discovery Communications, and film footage by Fernando Turmo.
Like many other victims taken in by the Jane Goodall Institute in the Republic of Congo, Wounda was saved from the illegal bushmeat trade; stolen from her home and her family by poachers. She arrived at JGI’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center clinging to life. With the care of the knowledgeable and experienced staff of the Jane Goodall Institute, she was given medical treatment and support along with the affection and love of caretakers. Her recovery was unbelievable and even included what is thought to be the first chimp to chimp blood transfusion in Africa.

Wounda on Tchindzoulou Island

Wounda enjoying her new life on Tchindzoulou Island

A process years in the making, the Jane Goodall Institute has finally completed the work to get a group of fifty chimpanzees, two groups of around twenty individuals, moved onto the Tchimpounga sanctuary island of Tchindzoulou. What some may not know from the initial Wounda video, is that this special chimpanzee was hugging Dr. Jane Goodall and thanking the JGI staff, like Dr. Rebeca Atencia who saved her life, as a response to being released onto this island, as she is one of the fifty who now call it home. These isolated island forests provide a more natural home safe from poachers, disease transmission and wild chimpanzees. Though the rescued chimps may never be able to be reintroduced into the wild, these islands are an important way to replicate a more natural way of life with other rescued chimpanzees in their social groups.

To ensure successful dynamics on the islands, JGI staff went through an extensive process. The two groups are made up of chimpanzees of both sexes and different ages, intending to replicate what a group of chimpanzees would look like in the wild. The two groups take turns spending the day in the forests of the island, and then return at dusk to sleep inside the housing facility on the island, which is conducive to a healthy and fulfilling life for all the chimpanzees.

Wounda, after all she has been through, is now the alpha female of one of these groups. Like all female chimps who live in Tchimpounga, Wounda received a long-term birth control implant, but as can occasionally occur, the birth control failed. She is now the capable and loving mother of an infant named Hope. Wounda has quickly adapted to her new forest home, and is forming deep bonds with the group of other rescued chimps. Chimps in her group often approach her to make gestures of submission and friendship to both Wounda and the alpha male Kefan, who is a close ally of hers. The female Koukele will occasionally approach Wounda to gently bite her arm, without causing any pain. This is a gesture that symbolizes trust between chimpanzees. Wounda always returns friendly gestures and caresses the chimpanzees who offer them.

Wounda’s best friend Kudia often plays with Hope and Hope in turn plays along with these subtle submissive communication behaviors. Hope is beginning to explore his surroundings, and though Wounda is protective of her infant and allows only close friends to interact with him, she is allowing more of the group to participate in the excitement of this new baby. Through all of our observations, it is still remarkable to remember that not so long ago, it was unclear if Wounda would live. Now, she’s brought new life into the world, and is a beloved chimpanzee in this sanctuary forest.

Wounda with her son

Wounda with her son on Tchindzoulou Island

The second phase of this process is the integration which will attempt to merge the two groups on Tchindzoulou. The process is highly complex and every detail is being considered, including the hierarchy of chimpanzees, their sex, their origin, if they have previous relationships with other chimps, and their personalities. This will help the JGI staff recognize which chimpanzees will be introduced to one another in a certain order.

For Wounda, and all of the rescued chimpanzees in Tchimpounga sanctuary, this is a second chance.

Each day you live, you have a choice as to what kind of difference you want to make. Please support the Jane Goodall Institute and the work of Dr. Jane Goodall to help give chimps like Wounda a second chance, and to help us continue our process of integrating this and other groups of Tchimpounga chimps. Unfortunately, Wounda’s story is not unique. JGI’s Tchimpounga sanctuary continues to keep its promise to never turn orphaned chimps away, we’ve taken in beautiful souls like Little George. This baby chimp deserves the chance Wounda received thanks to your support (learn more about baby George here.)

George, a new arrival

George, new arrival at the JGI Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center, November 2017.

Become a Chimpanzee Guardian today to support chimpanzees like Wounda and George. As a part of the program you will receive monthly updates on the chimps, a customized Chimpanzee Guardian certificate, a bio card of one of the Tchimpounga chimpanzees, a chimpanzee plush, and for Guardians giving over $57 a month, an exclusive Wounda art print.

We can do it,
but we can’t do it alone.

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