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Zoo passes on its skills
LOOKING after primate orphans who have suffered as a result of the devastating Bush Meat Trade is all in a day's work for Andreas Mbong and Bama Alfred. In their home in the Cameroon, the pair work at the Limbe Wildlife Centre where they care for orphaned chimpanzees and gorillas in preparation for potential release back into the wild The Limbe Wildlife Centre is one of 17 primate sanctuaries across Africa affiliated with the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) which was set up to provide links between primate experts and sanctuaries such as Limbe.
Chester Zoo has long been a supporter of PASA and, as a result, Richard Read and Kevin McDonagh from the zoo's maintenance team recently spent time at Limbe building new chimpanzee enclosures.
Andreas, who works predominantly with chimps at Limbe, and Bama, who works with gorillas, flew back to the UK with Richard and Kevin and are now working with the zoo's primate team picking up new skills with Chester's orang-utans, chimpanzees, lemurs and more.
The pair will also spend time working with the zoo's other large animals including rhinos and giraffes.
"This is a very special trip for us, not just in the cultural changes we see but also in the different way of working with primates." said Bama.
During their four-week stay in Chester, Andreas and Bama will help refurbish the chimpanzee island, installing new climbing posts.
They have also notched up a number of firsts including flying, supermarket shopping, a meal at a traditional English pub and their first sighting of an elephant.
Zoo vet Steve Unwin has worked alongside PASA for many years and helped organise the visit together with Jason Boyer from the zoo's primate section.
He said: "Offering these kinds of staff exchanges with conservation partners in the field, something Chester does with many of its projects, is a concrete way we can provide training and inspiration to all involved."