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African Woman Working with a Chimpanzee: Challenges and Rewards
Have you ever wondered what it is like to work with a chimpanzee? Chimpanzees are one of the closest relatives of humans, sharing about 98% of our DNA. They are also highly intelligent, social and emotional animals that can communicate, use tools, cooperate and learn. However, they are also endangered due to habitat loss, poaching, disease and human conflict. Working with a chimpanzee can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it also comes with many challenges and responsibilities.
In this article, we will introduce you to Mary, an African woman who works with a chimpanzee named Koko at a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. We will tell you how she met Koko, what her daily tasks are, what difficulties she faces and what benefits she gets from working with a chimpanzee. We will also give you some tips on how to work with a chimpanzee if you are interested in this career.
How Mary Met Koko
Mary is a 35-year-old woman who lives in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. She has always loved animals since she was a child and dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. However, due to financial and educational barriers, she could not pursue her dream and had to work as a waitress at a local restaurant. One day, she saw an advertisement for a job opening at a wildlife sanctuary that rescues and rehabilitates orphaned and injured chimpanzees. She applied for the job and was accepted after an interview and a training session.
She was assigned to work with Koko, a 10-year-old male chimpanzee who was rescued from poachers when he was only two years old. Koko had lost his mother and his right arm in the process and was traumatized by the experience. He was shy, scared and aggressive towards humans and other chimpanzees. Mary’s job was to help Koko recover from his trauma and learn to trust and socialize again.
What Mary Does Every Day
Mary’s daily routine starts at 6 am when she wakes up and gets ready for work. She takes a bus to the sanctuary, which is about an hour away from her home. She arrives at the sanctuary at 7 am and checks on Koko, who lives in a large enclosure with other chimpanzees. She greets him with a smile and a hug and gives him his breakfast, which consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. She also gives him some toys and enrichment items to stimulate his curiosity and intelligence.
After breakfast, Mary takes Koko out for a walk in the forest that surrounds the sanctuary. She holds his hand and guides him through the trees, plants and animals that he encounters. She teaches him the names of different things and encourages him to explore and play. She also watches out for any signs of danger or discomfort from Koko and protects him from any threats.
At noon, Mary brings Koko back to his enclosure and gives him his lunch, which is similar to his breakfast but with some variations. She then spends some time grooming him, which is an important way of bonding and showing affection among chimpanzees. She brushes his hair, cleans his ears and eyes, checks his teeth and nails and massages his muscles. She also talks to him softly and sings him songs that he likes.
In the afternoon, Mary joins other staff members at the sanctuary for some educational activities. They watch documentaries, read books or attend lectures about chimpanzees and their conservation issues. They also discuss their experiences, challenges and solutions regarding working with chimpanzees. They share their knowledge, skills and insights with each other and learn from each other.
At 5 pm, Mary gives Koko his dinner, which is similar to his lunch but with some variations. She then tucks him into his bed, which is a nest made of leaves and branches that he builds himself every night. She kisses him goodnight and tells him that she loves him. She then leaves the sanctuary and takes the bus back to her home.
What Difficulties Mary Faces
Working with a chimpanzee is not easy or glamorous. It requires patience, dedication
and compassion. Mary faces many difficulties in her job, such as:
- Physical challenges: Working with a chimpanzee can be physically demanding and exhausting. Mary has to walk, run, climb and carry Koko for long hours in the forest. She also has to deal with the heat, humidity, insects and dirt that come with working outdoors. She has to be careful not to get injured or infected by Koko’s bites, scratches or diseases.
- Emotional challenges: Working with a chimpanzee can also be emotionally draining and stressful. Mary has to cope with Koko’s mood swings, tantrums and aggression. She also has to deal with the sadness, anger and frustration that come from seeing Koko’s suffering and trauma. She has to balance her professional and personal relationship with Koko and not get too attached or detached from him.
- Social challenges: Working with a chimpanzee can also be socially isolating and challenging. Mary has to sacrifice her time, money and energy for her job. She has to miss out on many social events and opportunities that her friends and family enjoy. She also has to face the criticism, ridicule and prejudice that come from people who do not understand or appreciate her work.
What Benefits Mary Gets
Despite the difficulties, working with a chimpanzee can also be rewarding and fulfilling. Mary gets many benefits from her job, such as:
- Personal growth: Working with a chimpanzee can help Mary grow as a person. She can learn new skills, knowledge and perspectives that can enrich her life. She can also develop positive qualities such as patience, empathy, courage and resilience that can help her overcome any challenges.
- Professional satisfaction: Working with a chimpanzee can also give Mary a sense of professional satisfaction. She can feel proud of her work and its impact on Koko’s well-being and conservation. She can also enjoy the recognition and appreciation that she gets from her colleagues and supervisors at the sanctuary.
- Emotional connection: Working with a chimpanzee can also create an emotional connection between Mary and Koko. She can feel love, joy and happiness from being with Koko and seeing him grow and heal. She can also feel a sense of belonging and friendship from being part of Koko’s family and community.
How to Work with a Chimpanzee: Tips from Mary
If you are interested in working with a chimpanzee, you may wonder how to do it and what to expect. Mary has some tips for you based on her experience and expertise. She says:
- Do your research: Before you apply for a job or a volunteer position at a sanctuary or a zoo that works with chimpanzees, you should do some research about the place, the people and the chimpanzees. You should learn about their mission, vision, values and goals. You should also learn about their history, background, reputation and achievements. You should also learn about the chimpanzees’ names, personalities, preferences and needs.
- Get trained: Once you get accepted for a job or a volunteer position at a sanctuary or a zoo that works with chimpanzees, you should get trained by the staff members there. You should learn about the rules, regulations, protocols and procedures that govern your work. You should also learn about the skills, techniques and tools that you need to use in your work. You should also learn about the safety measures and precautions that you need to take in your work.
- Be patient: When you start working with a chimpanzee, you should be patient and respectful. You should not expect to bond with them immediately or easily. You should understand that they have their own pace, mood and personality. You should also understand that they have their own history, trauma and challenges. You should give them time and space to get to know you and trust you.
- Be flexible: When you work with a chimpanzee, you should be flexible and adaptable. You should not stick to a rigid plan or schedule. You should be ready to adjust to their needs and wants. You should also be ready to deal with any changes or surprises that may occur in your work. You should also be ready to learn from your mistakes and improve your work.
- Have fun: When you work with a chimpanzee, you should also have fun and enjoy yourself. You should not take yourself or your work too seriously. You should appreciate the beauty and wonder of working with such amazing animals. You should also celebrate the achievements and milestones that you and the chimpanzee reach together.
Why Working with a Chimpanzee Matters
Working with a chimpanzee is not only a personal and professional choice, but also a social and environmental one. By working with a chimpanzee, you can make a difference in the world in many ways, such as:
- Conserving chimpanzees: By working with a chimpanzee, you can help conserve their species and their habitat. You can help protect them from threats such as poaching, hunting, logging and mining. You can also help raise awareness and educate others about their plight and their importance.
- Understanding humans: By working with a chimpanzee, you can also learn more about yourself and your fellow humans. You can discover the similarities and differences between humans and chimpanzees in terms of biology, behavior, culture and cognition. You can also explore the evolutionary and ethical implications of our relationship with them.
- Improving lives: By working with a chimpanzee, you can also improve the lives of both humans and animals. You can contribute to scientific research and medical innovation that can benefit both species. You can also promote peace and harmony among different groups and communities that share the same planet.
In this article, we have introduced you to Mary, an African woman who works with a chimpanzee named Koko at a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. We have told you how she met Koko, what her daily tasks are, what difficulties she faces and what benefits she gets from working with a chimpanzee. We have also given you some tips on how to work with a chimpanzee if you are interested in this career. We have also explained why working with a chimpanzee matters for the conservation of their species, the understanding of humans and the improvement of lives.
We hope this article has given you everything you need to know about African woman working with a chimpanzee. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below. Thank you for reading and happy learning!