Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage
Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage: One of the largest chimpanzee reserves in the world
Chimfunshi is one of the oldest and largest chimpanzee reserves in the world and is internationally recognised as such. But that wasn’t always the case; the founders David and Sheila Siddle used to be smiled at for their unorthodox methods to adopt and nurse orphaned and injured chimpanzees. History >
The Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage is sheltering 130 chimpanzees at the moment at the Project Area and Orphanage. At the Project Area, nearly 100 chimpanzees live in four separate communities in enclosures measuring between 19 and 77 hectares each. Chimpanzees from all over the world are rescued from poachers and amusement parks and brought to the Orphanage at Chimfunshi. Most of them are injured and traumatised and need intensive care. As soon as they are in good health, they are carefully integrated into one of the chimpanzee families.
The Chimfunshi property encompasses more than 4200 hectares. In addition to providing the chimpanzees with forested enclosures, part of this land is dedicated to five villages where the Chimfunshi staff and their family live, a school, a clinic and the Education Centre. The Education Centre is an important research centre for international primatologists and students, and, as the name implies, provides chimpanzee education to visiting school groups and tourists. This is also the site of accommodations for visitors. Research >
Protection of animals and species: the animals at Chimfunshi
Today, the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage is a home for 130 chimpanzees. Most of the chimpanzees live in four large, forested. Each of these enclosures possesses a building with six to eight spacious cages, which are used exclusively for feeding, observing chimpanzee health, and providing medical care when necessary. This ensures that each chimpanzee, even the weakest, is provided with enough food. The large enclosures are guarded at all times, in order to be able to react to every irregularity immediately. Unlike many other sanctuaries, the chimpanzees at Chimfunshi come inside only once mid-day and sleep outside as wild chimpanzees do, building nests in the trees at night.
New chimpanzees are nursed to health and then carefully integrated into one of the existing families. At Chimfunshi, care is taken to provide the chimpanzees with as much freedom and protection as possible, while providing as species-typical an environment as possible. Chimpanzees >
Since the chimpanzees at Chimfunshi did not grow up in the wild and chimpanzees typically learn how to survive by spending time with their mothers others in their community, it is difficult to return them to the wild.
Chimfunshi is located in a forest habitat similar to the wild habitat of chimpanzees, but chimpanzees are not indigenous to Zambia and release locally is unlikely. (However, other sanctuaries in countries where chimpanzees are native have made some first successful attempts at reintroducing chimpanzees to the wild.)Therefore, Chimfunshi’s strategy is to give rescued chimpanzees an opportunity to live chimpanzee-typical lives in by integrating them into existing families. Association >
Apart from chimpanzees, other rescued animals such as parrots, antelopes, owls, buzzards, and many more live at Chimfunshi. In addition, Chimfunshi is recognized as an “Important Bird Area” (IBA #22) and close to the Orphanage is one of the most interesting and attractive bird watching areas worldwide. Zambia >
The name “Chimfunshi” means “place that holds water” in Bemba, one of the Zambian languages – and not without reason. The nearby Kafue river floods large parts of the grasslands and bush area every year during the rainy season. At that time, a vehicle with 4-wheel drive is essential for use of the roads. Map of Chimfunshi >
Sozial Projects: people at Chimfunshi
Chimfunshi combines the protection of a species and social and educational projects in a unique way: Chimfunshi employs and feeds 70 families – about 300 people, 150 of whom are children. Chimfunshi also has a school for about 80 children and provides basic medical care.
Chimfunshi permanently employs 60 people, who live in five villages that are located on site. More than 60% of the Zambian population lives below poverty level. Considering this, Chimfunshi is an important local employer that offers residents work as animal keepers, technical staff and service staff. Chimfunshi also contributes the local economy by purchasing food for the chimpanzees from local farmers.
In addition to the construction of houses for staff members and several wells that ensure the supply of fresh drinking water, clothing, toys, and educational material are regularly provided to the community. Another important project is the development and expansion of a health clinic. Projects >Top