Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Orphanage

I admit that I did not have high expectations of this place. Maybe it was because all of the guidebooks say that Chimfunshi is nearly impossible to get to without a 4x4 vehicle and it is run by some rather grouchy South Africans, but this was not the case in the least! The road was not great, but worth every pothole! The family that runs this orphanage containing 122 chimps (mostly rescued from the Congo and the babies that have born in captivity) is very warm and insanely in love with their animals and the workers that attend to them are exceptionally knowledgeable. We watched them feed the babies bottles of milk and I even got to play with a funny little baby chimp who had a diaper on and a sucker in his mouth (see pics below). Wild! The animals, for the most part, are able to roam free on acres and acres of donated land, but they all find their way to the fences when it is feeding time.

Crazy “pets” were running around the place. They had geese, peacocks, turkeys, African Gray Parrots, dozens of little scavenger monkeys and a hippo to hilt. I am not kidding. They have a pet hippo (yes, the animal that kills more people in Africa every year than any other animal on the continent). “Billy” is insanely fat and lethargic and has big whiskers like the bristles on a plastic hair brush.

All in all, a nice way to spend one’s 30th Birthday.

I went with Peter and Cheryl Smith and their two boys Brendan and Jason (the Mennonites from L.A.) and Adrian, my favorite farmer from Cornwall. Adrian’s 50th birthday was on Friday night and Cheryl and I both share May 11, so we ate cake all weekend. Divine.


Hali said...

Did you meet Dominick the baby chimp? My husband and I took our honeymoon to Zambia in December and we spent three nights at Chimfunshi. We had an amazing time with the chimpanzees and the animals. We were able to spend time with Dominick and and the keepers and Sheila and Sylvia. We really had an amazing experience. How long did you stay?

Alissa Maxwell said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I, too, am amazed that we have reached 30. Someone should have warned us about this when we met at 19?!? Insane. Many of my friends here think I am "young" but when my own friends are turning 30, I can't ingore that I must be there, too. Love the Chimps - and all your posts lately. Blessings!

Joseph Hummel said...

i love your blog - its just uplifting and i just stumbled on it.
anyway - i am putting together something in zambia and could always use some friends with know how.