Written by: Helen Rennie
It was only a short stay, but oh – was it sweet! Visiting Chimfunshi chimpanzee orphanage was certainly a trip that my husband, Mark, and I will never forget. From having Mila squeeze our (sometimes non-existent) spots and playing with baby chimp, Jewel, to watering hundreds – and hundreds – of trees and making behaviour enrichment toys from peanut butter and gaffer tape – this trip was full of new experiences!
The bush walk was especially memorable, of course. Watching Sims patiently unthread my shoelace was one of the highlights of the whole week. I think he became my favourite chimp in that moment; just sitting peacefully looking at him and the concentration on his sweet face.
Then there was meeting Sheila Siddle. I was in the middle of reading her book, In My Family Tree: A Life with Chimpanzees, so chatting to her was like meeting a rock star. What a lady! The keepers are great too; full of knowledge (and smiles) and their affection for the chimpanzees is inspiring.
The sunrise was spectacular, even though it took a while to thaw out our feet! The atmosphere back at camp at the end of another busy day was great and even though we were only a small group, we never stopped talking. Chimfunshi is relaxed and friendly, but don’t take our word for it. Go and find out for yourself…
To volunteer on this conservation program search it in the top right of the screen (magnifying glass) and select apply.