Akiba: Orphaned as Baby by Poachers
Akiba, whose name means “thank you” in one of the local dialects in Cameroon, was brought to In Defense of Animals – Africa’s Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue in March 2004, when she was only five months old. A poacher had killed Akiba’s mother and stolen her from the forest only 2-3 days earlier, and a former Sanaga-Yong employee rescued her. When she arrived at the sanctuary, she was dehydrated and so weak that she could barely hold her head up or keep her eyes open. However, unlike other infants who have found safe haven at Sanaga-Yong, Akiba did not need to be coaxed to drink her milk formula. She immediately accepted a baby bottle, which was a wonderful relief for her caregivers! By the end of the first day, she was already stronger and more alert.
As Akiba grew older, her group (which included three other babies),was integrated with more mature chimpanzees. Today, at thirteen years old, she is a beautiful, gentle and well-accepted chimpanzee adolescent. She is, however, a low-ranking member of Mintak’s social group of fourteen, so her caregivers take special care to make sure she gets her share of all the good fruits and vegetables on the menu. She enjoys passing her days with both male and female friends in an enclosure complex that currently includes a five-acre enclosure, which will be expanded to 7.5 lushly forested acres in 2017.
Photo by Director Sheri Speede