This African chimpanzee, Wounda, which means “close to dying” in Congolese was suffering from a number of illnesses and was almost dead when she was discovered and taken in by the Jane Goodall Institute Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center. After being brought back from the verge of death, Wounda shared this heartwarming moment with her rescuer before being set free into a sanctuary jungle paradise.
The well-known animal conservationist, Jane Goodall made the trip with Wounda to a new island sanctuary in the Republic of Congo, where the now-healthy chimp would be reintroduced into the pristine jungle.
After arriving at their destination, Wounda’s caregivers lifted the cage gate and the chimp set foot into the lush forest. Realizing she was free, she could not set off without first giving Jane a beautiful farewell hug.
Wounda could not set off without first giving Jane a beautiful farewell hug
When she was discovered, Wounda was seriously ill and was losing weight rapidly. It was a race against death just to keep the chimp alive.
The name, ‘Wounda’ means “close to dying” in Congolese
Gradually, the chimp regained strength. She was fed a liter of milk each day; and after years of tender care from the staff at the Jane Goodall Institute, she was strong enough to be reintroduced into her natural habitat.
Suffering from severe illness, Wounda was on the verge of death
Jane Goodall founded the chimpanzee sanctuary 20 years prior, and it became a place where chimps could find safety from the illegal bushmeat and exotic pet trades. However, many of the chimps inhabiting the facility had grown into adults and required more territory to explore.
She was nursed back to health over several years at the Jane Goodall Institute
In order to meet this growing need for land, Jane worked hard to increase the habitat where the animals could find safety and refuge, which resulted in an expansion of the sanctuary to include Tchindzoulou Island—more lush and wild than the previous habitat—near the Kouilou River, the second largest river in the Congo after the Congo River. It was here on this island that Wounda was set free.
Jane and Rebeca Atencia, head of the Jane Goodall Institute shared the story of how Wounda was discovered and nursed back to health
Wounda was loaded onto a truck and boated over the river, where her caregivers would release her onto the island.
Wounda was loaded onto a truck to be transported to her new island habitat
But, before releasing the chimp into her new jungle home, Goodall shared some of her feelings:
“She nearly died,” said Dr. Goodall. “But, thanks to Rebeca, she came back from the dead almost—I saw her looking almost dead.
“Now, she has a will to live, and here she is about to come out into this paradise. She’s the 15th chimpanzee to get her freedom here. And we hope ultimately to have about 60 on the island.”
Then, she added, “And, I’m hoping that for my 80th birthday, which is next year, that we can raise enough money to bring all of them out and give them all their freedom; and that will be the best birthday present that I could have. So, I hope that you help us, please.”