Chimpanzees at the Limbe Wildlife Centre in Cameroon recently had an opportunity to become amateur plumbers for the day while their water system was being repaired, and when the taps finally started flowing again, they celebrated as only chimpanzees can.
A few weeks ago, construction was completed on new chimpanzee pools for the residents who live on island and mainland enclosures at this acclaimed rainforest rescue center and sanctuary. Staff also did some work on the cold water taps, which the chimpanzees regularly use for drinking and cooling themselves, and when the water stopped flowing, the chimps decided to take matters into their own hands.
“While the taps were broken, a few chimpanzees spent nearly the whole day trying to fix them,” Limbe Wildlife Centre’s Ainare Idoage said. “Carlos, an adult male who belongs to the island group, tried many techniques. He found a wood stick and used it as a lever and then hammered the stick into the tap with a rock. He tied grass around the stick to pull it up and down and then stuffed grass inside of the tap to ‘clean’ it.”
“In the infant chimpanzee group, two-year-old Lolo also tried using a stick to make the tap work, ” Ainare continued. ”When the water came back on, the chimps were extremely happy. Carlos especially loves to use the tap as a shower to wet his whole body during the day and he spent the first few days doing so. The rest of the chimpanzees were more excited about their new pool. As you can see, Nikita was playing with everyone and splashing them all.”
While all this seems like simple fun, the truth is that these outdoor water features are particularly important during dry season in Cameroon, where temperatures rise quite high. The chimps must remain hydrated and keep their body temperatures at a normal level.
Each of the chimpanzees here was rescued from deep trauma. They are survivors of the bushmeat trade, most of whom lost their mothers who became ‘meat’ when their offspring were just infants. The babies are typically sold or raised as pets and find their way to the Limbe Wildlife Centre when they are confiscated by authorities. Wild animals of every kind land here, including parrots, crocodiles and various species of monkeys.
Though most of the animals ultimately are returned to the forest, the chimpanzees and gorillas require lifelong care. Though there are long term hopes of returning some of them to a newly formed forest preserve, sufficient law enforcement is not yet in place to prevent poaching. Enjoy more incredible images from the Limbe Wildlife Centre.