Skip to main content

Safe Haven


A baby chimpanzee is having a nightmare. Chantal is his caretaker. She tries to soothe him back to sleep. They’re at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center. It’s in the Republic of the Congo. That’s in Africa.

The chimp’s name is George. He was taken from his mother by poachers. Eventually, he was rescued. He was taken to the sanctuary. Chantal helped him make friends with the other chimpanzees there.

Chimpanzees at the Tchimpounga sanctuary sit for a group shot.


Getting Results

Tchimpounga is part of the Jane Goodall Institute. It’s home to about 150 chimps. Many of them live on forested islands. (See “Island Home.”) There, they are prepared for a possible return to the wild.

Chimps take in the view from a tree in the near-wild environment of the sanctuary.


The chimps aren’t the only ones getting an education. The sanctuary works with law enforcement and the government in the Republic of the Congo. The goal is to reduce illegal trade in animals.

“We’ve received only one orphan chimp over the past three years,” Rebeca Atencia said in an interview. She’s the sanctuary’s head veterinarian. “This is a great achievement. It shows us that our efforts are working.”

Rebeca Atencia examines a chimpanzee at the Tchimpounga Sanctuary, in the Republic of the Congo.


Saving Lives

The chimps of Tchimpounga have shown that they’re aware of the sanctuary staff’s efforts. “Saving the life of a chimpanzee is very gratifying,” Atencia says. “Chimpanzees know when you’ve helped them or saved their life. Sometimes, they thank you with a hug.” 

Caregiver Antonette nurses an orphaned chimpanzee named JeJe.* * This photo represents a sanctuary context with trained professionals. JGI does not endorse handling or close proximity to wildlife.


Island Home


Atencia (left) and Goodall are shown here releasing a chimp in 2013. Chimpanzees at the Tchimpounga sanctuary are taught how to live in the wild. Then they can be released. Islands in the Kouilou River provide a near-wild forest for chimps to live in. Chimps are safe from poachers. And they’re still under the care of sanctuary staff.