Mila is one of our oldest chimps at the sanctuary. She is probably around 40. In the last few months we have seen her confining her self in a room and not wanting to go out in the forest and play with friends. Whereas before she would periodically go out and even sleep in the trees, now she has said NO to leave her cage. Signs of old age have forced her into retirement.
Mila arrived here at Chimfunshi in 1990 at the age of 18. Prior to her arrival she spent most of her life in a pub somewhere in Arusha drinking and smoking cigarettes. She was first bought in a meat market in Cameroon when she was a tiny baby. At the age of three she was taken to Tanzania and left at the Mount Meru Game Lodge. She became the main attraction at a public bar and was known as the beer drinking, smalking chimp. It was Jane Goodall that rescued her and brought her to Chimfunshi. Mila had not known life in the wild and it was not possible for Jane Goodall to introduce her to chimpanzees at Gombe National Park in Tanzania. She was the oldest chimpanzee ever to arrive at Chimfunshi. For the first few months at Chimfunshi she suffered from withdrawal symptoms as she was weaned off the beer and cigarettes. She eventually settled down well and seemed quiet content with her new surroundings.
‘Old age’ started creping on her a few years ago but she tried hard to fight it off. There were times when she would demand to be in a cage alone and refuse to join friends outside. This would go on for several days and then she would demand to be let out. This pattern of behaviour went on for some time until 3 months ago when this changed completely. She started staying in the cages for longer periods than before and refused to share her cage with anyone at meal times. This made it very difficult for the other chimps because they had to be crammed in one single cage at meal times. It now looks like the group members have realized what’s going on and they have started respecting her privacy even though some juveniles try to torment her from time and again.
So what is next for our lady? Our plan would be to move her into a new enclosure where she can enjoy the sun and hopefully make a nest in the trees without any interference from the juveniles that always want to pick on her. But this can only be done once funds are available and the enclosure is finished. This would eventuary act as a retirement home for some of our chimps.
- The oldest chimp at Chimfunshi.