Rescuing Baby Chimps: Just Another Day at NG
Sometimes I wonder if to the outside world, the National Geographic Society seems like a big huge entity that all somehow fits inside a large yellow rectangle. Our research and scope is so large that it can be hard to imagine things on a personal, smaller scale. So I wanted to be sure that I shared this story, featured on the NG News Blog, about National Geographic Emerging Explorer Jill Pruetz, who recently dropped everything and flew from Iowa to Senegal when she heard that a Fongoli chimp had been captured by two hunters and abandoned without its mother.
Pruetz’s anthropology fieldwork has found that chimps use tools while hunting, and often find shelter in caves
during extreme temperatures – both were revelations in the primatology research community, and reported by National Geographic Magazine, and NG News. When she heard from a field assistant in Senegal that a nine-month-old baby chimp, Aimee, had been abandoned, she did her utmost to try and reunite her with her mother. Upon arriving in Senegal, she and her team eventually tracked a party of chimps with included the baby’s mother, Tia. She set the baby at the foot of the fig tree the group was perched in, and waited for the mother to come reclaim her lost child. Pruetz wrote of the experience in an email, published on the NG News blog and excerpted here:
The baby was so small and understandably confused, though, that she didn’t vocalize when she heard the chimps, so we ended up all three walking together with the bag to within about 30 feet of the chimp party feeding in a fig tree. We put the bag down and opened it and backed away about 25 feet.
Mike, an adolescent [chimp] whose own mother disappeared soon after he was weaned, came down and approached the baby, who just sat in the sack and looked from us to the chimps. He looked at her and smelled her and then picked her up and took her to the tree where her mother, Tia, raced down and retrieved her!
Just a little chimp love to set you up for the weekend. To read the full email, and learn more about the chimp population in Senegal, check out the NG News blog here.
Photo: Jill Pruetz
- Nat Geo Expeditions