On the 2nd of August we were invited along to the grand opening of the newest chimp house at Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary within Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Sweetwaters was established in 1993 when the Jane Goodall Institute and the Kenya Wildlife Service joined forces to open the sanctuary within Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki, Kenya. An initial group of three chimpanzee orphans were brought to the sanctuary from a facility in Bujumbura, Burundi in 1993. This group of chimpanzees needed to be evacuated due to the outbreak of civil war in Burundi. Another group of nine adult chimps were brought to the sanctuary in 1995 and these were followed by another group of 10 in 1996. As chimpanzees are not native to Kenya, this sanctuary is a place to offer a safe home to those chimps that have been abused in the past and are in need of a good home. The chimps at Sweetwaters have differing backgrounds and are from many different countries but have all got one thing in common. They have each came from unimaginable circumstances and have faced horrific experiences of abuse and neglect. For example, Poco the chimp spent the first 9 years of his life in a cage suspended above a small workshop in an attempt to attract potential customers. The cage was so small that Poco was only able to sit or stand on two legs, which is unnatural for a chimpanzee. However, since settling in at Sweetwaters, Poco has been a model resident and is now one of the more gentle chimpanzees. Over the years the sanctuary has continued to take in more chimpanzees that have been rescued from traumatic situations and the total number of chimps now stands at 42, hence the need for a new chimp house. The new chimp house, which has 12 sleeping quarters, means there is sufficient room for more chimpanzees as the sanctuary is compelled to accept chimps that have been abused and require special care. Of course, chimps are not native to Kenya and so the sanctuary has been designed as a place where these once ill-treated chimps can enjoy the rest of their lives in a safe environment that has been created especially for them. Manager of Sweetwaters Sanctuary, Martin Mulama was on site to introduce us to Chimpanzee vet Dr George Paul. We were then briefed on the new chimp house and why it would benefit the chimps. As the ribbon was cut, it marked another achievement in the diary for the sanctuary. We were then taken through the chimp house and shown the young group of chimps that would be the first...

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A visit to the Colobus Trust


Posted By on Jul 22, 2012

Hand rearing any animal is a tough job so when we found out about baby Betsy – the longest surviving Black and White Angolan Colobus monkey to be hand reared – we were excited to be given the opportunity to visit Betsy and her handler, Andrea. We were asked to create a follow on documentary to reflect on the progress that Betsy has made during her time at the Colobus Trust. Betsy was taken in by Andrea and her partner, Keith when she was just 9 days old when unfortunately her mother could not be found. Baby Betsy was abandoned several times by various Black and White Angolan Colobus troops; in the end the staff of Colobus Trust had to intervene in order to save her life. Since Andrea and Keith took over the job of hand rearing Betsy they have overcome many difficulties. Due to Betsy’s age and her unique and unfortunate experience, alongside her ┬ádemanding dietary requirements, bringing her up has been no easy task. Firstly we met up with Andrea, whom we would be recording an interview with, in the office along with Betsy – whom we quickly found out was quite the character when meeting new people! The filming equipment appeared to be her favourite! Andrea told us about Betsy’s latest situation, as well as all the stories and information she had about the past 18 months. ┬áThe interview was interrupted a few times by Betsy, it appeared that the only method to calm down her energetic mind is a little treat from her handler every now and then. Apart from interviewing Andrea, our other task was to capture as many clips of Betsy’s activity as possible. When she jumped from one tree branch to another, her playfulness attracted some of the other monkeys that belong to the home troop around where the Colobus Trust is based. This is where someday in the future Andrea hopes to release Betsy into the wild. Group leader Emily seemed to be Betsy’s favourite new friend; more than one time Betsy jumped on her shoulders and showed an interest in her camera. This made Emily’s work a little more difficult but at the same time very interesting. For all of us, the making of this documentary was a rare and precious opportunity. Not only because as crew we got a chance to see a Colobus monkey in a close distance, but also that our production aims to raise more awareness of both Betsy and the rest of the amazing work that the Colobus Trust continues to do. Update – October 2012: The documentary is now available on our YouTube...

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