Baby monkeys are always a heart-stealer. Whether it’s because they remind us of our own babies quite a bit or if we just love seeing their antics, humans love to play with them. Unfortunately, humans often have to do more than just play with the little creatures. One woman found out what it was like to care for an abandoned chimpanzee baby.
Tita is a baby chimpanzee that was brought into the Chimpanzee Conservation Center in critical condition.
When Tita was brought into the sanctuary, she was in rough shape. She had a broken arm and dark circles around her eyes. It also looked like she hadn’t been getting enough food and was emaciated. The little chimp was in such poor condition because her entire family was attacked by wildlife traffickers. Through the ordeal, she ended up losing her mother and sister.
For many baby chimps, the outlook is grim when their mother dies.
When she was brought in, the conservation center was worried about little Tita. Baby chimps often give up on life and let themselves die when their mother dies and Tita was in danger of that. The next few days would be telling in how likely it was for Tita to survive.
Slowly but surely, Tita began to recover.
Part of the recovery process was food and medical attention, but another part was something a bit more emotional. Since mothers are so important for chimps, they thought that Tita would do well with a surrogate mother. That’s where Elodie stepped in.
Starting off with 24/7 care, Elodie became Tita’s surrogate mom.
Out of her own kindness, Elodie started caring for and loving the little chimp when she needed it the most. Tita needed her full attention to make sure that she was going to be able to recover. Every day Elodie would hold Tita and rock her back and forth, letting her know that she was there.
The chimp was incredibly nervous for a long time.
While most baby chimps are very playful, Tita was still in a bit of shock. When Elodie would try to play, Tita was unresponsive and didn’t seem in the mood to play back. Whether it was peek-a-boo or tickling fights, Tita didn’t seem to be interested in the world around her.
Elodie finally had a breakthrough, two weeks later.
After two weeks of caring for the little one, Elodie was tickling her. Finally, Tita let out a laugh and played back with Elodie for the first time! The moment was incredibly powerful as it meant that Tita was still holding onto life.
The goal of the sanctuary is to release every chimp back into the world.
While this is the ultimate goal, it can sometimes take a long time. Since they are such intelligent and social animals, it can take 12-15 years for a baby to grow up and return to the wild. They mostly learn from their troupe and humans make a poor substitute when the chimps are found as babies.
Eventually, they learn how to groom, find food, and heal emotionally.
Just like humans, trauma takes time to recover. Once Tita found friends who had also experienced trauma, they all started growing faster together. We can learn a lot from watching our distant cousins.
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