On Saturday the 20th of June at 6:30pm we were settling in for a quiet and early night at home. We knew all of the animals were fed, safe and sound asleep. However, we had someone knock on our front gate. Carmen went out to talk to these three men who insisted they must see her. When she went outside, she was surprised to see a chimpanzee in the back of the taxi the men had come in. Immediately, she picked up the chimpanzee and then began talking to the men. Sometimes, people come to our door or the sanctuary to ‘sell’ us wild animals -such as baby chimpanzees. Of course it is highly illegal to buy or sell any wild animal. Therefore, if we can take physical possession of the animal before discussions about money start, the people have less to bargain with – as we already have the animal in our arms. As it turns out, these men had driven all the way from Fizi which is many kilometers north of Lwiro. We have other chimpanzees who originated from this area – Pablo and Fizi. The men were from both a government department and an NGO– and although they were not seeking payment for the chimpanzee, they were asking for compensation for the travel costs. This is something that falls outside our jurisdiction, so Carmen informed them that they must return the next day to speak to someone from the government. Thankfully, they agreed, and left the chimpanzee in our care.
We estimate ‘Misisi’ is about 3 ½ to 4 years old. She is quite large, but extremely skinny. She has very large swellings under both her eyes which is caused by malnutrition. She also has deep scars around her waste, from where she was at one time held on a rope. The very first thing we noticed about her was the putrid smell. We could not find the site of the obvious infection to begin with. However, she was so excited to be offered food that she vocalized with a lot of energy, and that is when we realized that the smell was coming from her mouth. She was given an injection of antibiotics, but it wasn’t until the next day that we got a good look at the severity of the infection. It covered the bottom jaw on the left side of her mouth. That whole side was green and white with puss.
Misisi also has burns to the right side of her face. It starts from under her eye and continues down to her lip. She also has a burn on her left arm. We do not know how she got these burns. When she sleeps both her right eye and the right side of her mouth can not close fully due to the burns.
Misisi is severely depressed and withdrawn. She vocalizes on occasion if she is particularly excited about an item of food, but other than that, she is quiet. She has not yet laughed or played. All of this should come in time with gentle coaxing, but it is very sad to see a chimpanzee in this state.
Misisi, day after arrival in Lwiro