Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage, the World’s Largest Primatologist Dream!

Who has 98 percent DNA genetic similarity with humans? The chimpanzees of course! Little wonder they also have orphanages like humans. Chimfunshi Wildlife Ophanage in Zambia is the largest chimpanzee’s sanctuary in the world.

Chimps are not indigenous to Zambia but are now part of the highly diverse wildlife of Zambia, and perhaps the human family life too! They’re now a legacy of Zambian tourism .

To day Chimfunshi Wildlife Ophanage hosts 106 chimpanzees. This orphanage is located 60 kilometers away from Chingola on the Solwezi road, but still in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia.

Even humans are welcome. On offer to visitors at Chimfunshi are camping, lodging and conference facilities. There are five chalets (cottages) that take twelve beds and have piped water supplied from a borehole. The lounge can seat up to 60 clients.

These facilities are open to all…both corporate and schools. The charges are only US$20 per person, per night and covers catering facilities. There are braii stands gas stoves and solar power for lighting the cottages

How Did Chimfunshi Come About

The start was not planned but was rather dramatic. A British couple David and Sheila Siddle owned a cattle ranch on the Zambian Copperbelt since the 1950s. It’s no longer just an ordinary ranch because it is also a home for chimps.

One day, in 1983, a game ranger brought a badly injured infant chimpanzee to their ranch. Sheila and David nursed the chimp back to good health. That was the start of this legacy, the legend of the world largest chimp orphanage…and not by design too!

Sheila recalls how the first chimp they call “Pal” immediately embraced her on arrival. Before he was smuggled into Zambia from the DR Congo Pal was found in a local market being sold by poachers. Clearly he had been mistreated since his capture. Pal had facial wounds and was poorly malnourished. Luckily Pal recovered and this news brought a flood of new chimp orphans.

A couple of years later the Siddles tried to rid themselves of the chimps but couldn’t for lack of a place to take them. David and Sheila’s problem became the chimps’ blessings. The chimps now have a home…the world’s largest orphanage and sanctuary.

The Siddles do not buy chimps but accept those in need of help especially ones harmed by poachers and smugglers alike. However, the opposite happens. People sponsor chimps to their care. And you should too if you’re an animal lover or better still a primatologist.

The Sad Story

Nevertheless, not everyone is kind enough to take the chimps to Chimfunshi. The Siddles find it inexcusable that some people want to make a fast buck by illegally selling chimps for as much as US$100,000 in the Middle East.

It’s sad that in spite the relentless effort David and Sheila put in to save the chimps from extinction there are worrying reports about the future of chimpanzees world-over. According to the Stop Experimentation and Exploitation of Chimpanzees (SEEC), more than 1,300 chimps are currently imprisoned in the United States research facilities. Many are enduring mind-numbing conditions and isolation. Some are subjected to torturous scientific probing in the name of medical research for human disease cures.

Lets not be Thoughtless

Chimpanzee’s DNA is 98% similar to humans. Despite being our closest genetic kin, chimpanzees are poor models for human diseases. In addition, their similarity to humans makes it unethical to harm them, being sentient, intelligent, self aware, empathetic and highly social.

Some young chimps are exploited for the most thoughtless of purposes. They are forced to perform for our amusement or are kept as pets until they become unmanageable. They grow too powerful for man to handle! Then they are thrown out unceremoniously or worse still, put to the ground. It stands to reason that this should be stopped! And many support this…

A String of Awards Won

The Siddles’ work has won them a steady stream of honors and awards, including the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global 500 Award (2000), the Audi / Terra Nova nomination (2001), a special commendation from the Nedbank / mail & Guardian Green Trust Awards (2000), and the Jane Goodall Award (995). In 2001, the Siddles were granted MBEs by Queen Elizabeth II in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace

Help is Required

Luckily Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage exists and thanks to the Siddles. It’s not only the chimpanzees but also even other wild animals benefit from their care, David and Sheila! To save these, our next of kin from extinction visit to give a donation . Their life might depend on you.

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