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Orphaned Paraplegic Chimpanzee Gets Hi-Tech Help

Orphaned Paraplegic Chimpanzee Gets Hi-Tech Help

Arvid is an orphaned chimpanzee who became a paraplegic in November 2009 after a severe case of meningitis.  But a brand new sophisticated digital imagery device may soon give this little guy enough independence to help him walk again.


Arvid lives at the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center in Cameroon.  The region is a hotbed for meningitis that is often referred to as the “African meningitis belt.”  It affects both humans and primates.  And according to the World Health Organization there was an epidemic of the illness in 2009 that affected 14 countries with 78,416 cases reported.


Arvid’s Story

In Defense of Animals, the international organization that supports the Chimpanzee Rescue Center, reported Arvid’s story on their website.   They said the meningitis, an infection of the lining around the brain and spinal cord attacked his body so hard the chimpanzee fell into a coma and nearly died. When Arvid awoke several days later, he was blind, deaf and paralyzed. 


He soon recovered his sight and hearing, but has remained a paraplegic.  His caregivers hand feed him, keep him clean, and see that he is not left alone.  The IDA story reported that just like a human with a disability Arvid gets frustrated by his limitations, but he also has his good days when his buddies visit or he gets his favorite foods.


The Prognosis

Although Arvid cannot walk, he is slowly regaining use of his shoulders, arms and hands.  Because of his strong spirit, IDA made a commitment to find a solution for the chimpanzee that would  get him back to as much of his normal life as possible.


That’s when they found Michael Moor, a prosthetic and orthotic specialist from Portland, Oregon.  Moor used Arvid’s measurements and sophisticated digital imagery to design a one-of-a-kind lightweight wheelchair that will “place Arvid’s arms and legs in a normal chimpanzee walking position.”  The device will allow him to move around in all directions on his own. 


The wheelchair can also be adjusted to bear more weight, so as Arvid grows stronger his body will rely less on the chair.  IDA hopes this will ultimately help the chimpanzee regain full use of his legs.


The Cure

Arvid is lucky to be alive after his bout with meningitis.  The World Health Organization reported that the infection causes severe brain damage and can be fatal in 50 percent of cases if it goes untreated.  The 2009 epidemic was the worst since 1996 with 4,053 human deaths.  A new vaccine specifically for the strains of meningitis in Africa should be available by the end of 2010.


Chimpanzee Orphans

IDA-Africa currently cares for 66 orphaned chimpanzees at the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center.  Most of their mothers were slaughtered in the illegal, commercial bush meat trade.  The young mothers who are protecting their offspring are considered to be easy prey by poachers. 


The chimpanzee infants are often sold to resorts as entertainment or as pets to individuals. 


Over the years the Rescue Center in Cameroon has given sanctuary to more than 100 great ape orphans.  And once at the sanctuary they are free to live out their lives in a protected natural habitat. Click Here to read more about Arvid and IDA-Africa.



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4:19PM PDT on May 29, 2012

Wow so nice ot hear Arvid has so strong will to be better and better, plus the knowledge of how the prosthetic device works on him will help to realize new patronsof movement that could help humans too later.

6:56PM PDT on May 28, 2012

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men. ---St. Francis of Assisi..."

8:37AM PST on Dec 2, 2011

It's a wow for all concerned. ^_^
It's great to witness technology that offers resolution, instead of just entertainment.

6:04PM PDT on Oct 12, 2011

Go Arvid!! It is great that he survived and even greater that there are people who can/will help him.

12:05PM PDT on Oct 12, 2011

I am always amazed at how people come to the rescue of handicapped animals. Some would just disregard them. If everyone would just go above and beyond the norm, we could find the solution, instead of just seeing the problem. Thank you for the great story.

5:59AM PDT on Jul 16, 2011


8:51PM PST on Jan 21, 2011

thumbs up!

7:09PM PST on Jan 21, 2011


3:55AM PST on Jan 14, 2011

I am humbled by the generosity of people that care so much about animals....these apes deserve all the help we can give...

6:19AM PDT on Aug 27, 2010

Arvid is one very tough little Chimpanee,he deserves all the help he can get,so sad that people are allowed to have these babies for entertainment,not in Australia thank goodness,thank you to the rescuers ,you do a terrific job,it;s nice to know some of them are in a sanctuary safe from those disgusting poachers.

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