Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust
When a badly injured chimpanzee was brought to the Zambian farm of David and Sheila Siddle in 1983, it was not expected to live. It was malnourished, dehydrated and suffering from deep cuts across its face, and its teeth had been smashed in to keep it from biting its captors. Nevertheless, the Siddles decided to nurse the chimp - nicknamed Pal - back to health, thereby establishing a legacy of care and respect that serves as the foundation of the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage.
Today, Chimfunshi is the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in the world, with over 70 chimps roaming in social groups across 26 acres of free-range enclosures. Rescued from poachers or dilapidated zoos and circuses, the chimps have often suffered horribly, yet are too habituated to return to the wild. Chimfunshi gives each chimp the love and protection it deserve, and never turns an ape away.
Chimfunshi exists primarily on donations, yet it is an important bulwark in the fight against poaching, deforestation and the bushmeat trade that threaten wild chimpanzees. The Siddles are outspoken animal rights activists. They educate as many as 30,000 visitors each year about the plight of both wild and captive chimps. They have set up the Pal Award, which is given annually to those who promote chimp issues.
The orphanage has also provided valuable information about the re-socialization and rehabilitation of man's closest relative. It serves as a model for the primate sanctuary movement currently sweeping across Africa.
In early 2000, Chimfunshi will break new ground when it opens two 500-acre chimp enclosures, which will allow apes to roam through forests, fruit groves, grassland and streams. This setting will be the closest these chimps will ever come to living in the 'wild' again.