Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Aketi 5 (Now Plus Aketi)

It might be confusing for some -- the name of the town here is Aketi and the fifth chimp confiscated is also called Aketi Kigoma, but often just Aketi, or “Detective Munch” or “Little Mister Mess Mess”

So, the Aketi 5 - our five little sanctuary chimpanzees in Aketi, now have a chimpanzee NAMED Aketi among their ranks!

It’s a somewhat standard sanctuary practice to name chimpanzees after their forest/location of origin, too. It is a potential confusing-name landmine!

But, as of this past Thursday, Aketi Kigoma is a part of our little sanctuary officially, having successfully finished his quarantine period and after having had a couple visits to the sanctuary to acquaint him with his fellow chimpanzees.

Aketi Kigoma is still friendly with Bolungwa, and likes playing with Django (that is, until Django starts playing too rough)

He hasn’t quite gotten the hang of Kathé, who is probably 4-5 times his size! But he was comfortable enough to spend the day there with me there on Thursday.

Of course, night came and he was so excited by the day’s events! He didn’t really want to go to bed even at 6 pm (way past his usual bedtime) so I went into the chimp house to lie down with him.

The chimp accommodations there aren’t quite as swank as they are at our house, since during quarantine he was given our second sleeping bag bunched up to sleep on. But the chimps at the sanctuary have Cleve’s old Thermarest, and are quite comfortable.

While there, I realized that there are things I take for granted in the house, away from the “forest” proper and there are so many things I don’t have to deal with!

Take for example the Invisibles -- a kind of teeny tiny bug that is literally nearly impossible to see 99% of the time. But they bite you, leaving huge red welts which then raise into SUPER HORRIBLY ITCHY BUMPS. If you recall my photos from Yoko Forest, when my chest and parts of my face and arms and feet were covered, those bites were from the Invisibles (whose name in English I am completely unaware of!)

The extra crappy side of the Invisibles is that they also carry FILARIA!! Which any doctor can tell you is evil, evil, evil. It can cause elephantitis (would you like to carry your body parts, still attached to you, in a wheelbarrow?) and also river blindness, both of which are unpleasant enough to make me not want to spend extended periods of time next to the river, camping!

Anyway, the point being that the forest where the sanctuary is nestled is FULL of invisibles at night, so, while lying on the ground with Aketi at night, waiting for him to fall asleep, they all ate me while I remained blithely unaware!

So now I am itchy, but content to discover that Aketi isn’t crying for me like he did the first time he woke up. I did manage to make the transition as painless as possible by waiting to leave when he was asleep, but a transition with a chimpanzee infant that small is never easy.

I’ll probably wait another 3 or 4 days before I return to the sanctuary, to give Aketi a chance to acclimate to the other guardians, but it feels a lot emptier here without him already!

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