Theres an elephant in my ear…

So good news or bad news? I will start with the bad news. The chimpanzees aren’t being allowed in all of their cage rooms because of severe rusting of the bars. A cost which the zoo doesn’t have the money to change. Me and the zoo manager are however meeting with a welder for a quote, so I shall let you all know what happens. The zoo manager (Zieka) seems to be an intelligent and open-minded man who has real vision for animal welfare improvements at the zoo.

The good news is very good news. The isolated female chimpanzee is going to be integrated with the two older females! Me and the manager agreed to start the integration process as soon as safety improvements to their facility are made. Integrating chimpanzees is a slow procedure, yet Rosemary (the isolated girl) has lived with the other two females in the past, so I am quietly confident. Since arriving my funding budget has had to change dimension several times, welder salaries and construction materials are among the unexpected necessities.

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Another positive Change this week was the arrival of two British volunteers, who are here for a couple of months to improve the welfare of the other animals. This is such a relief as although the chimpanzees situation is one of the most urgent, there is so much to be done for the other animals at the zoo. Their company is also nice 🙂

I have been spending many hours with Rosemary collecting behavioural data, all of which falls under the categories of either ‘resting’ or ‘self-plucking’ her hair. On Saturday morning I was doing exactly this, concentrating hard. Then suddenly I felt someone shake my backpack with force, before I knew it I felt slimy wet skin on my ear, then the heaviest, wettest, breathiest sniff Straight into my ear! I jumped and turned to see the Zoo elephant Batu standing right next to me, her trunk in my face! She wonders the grounds freely trying to make friends. I slowly backed around the corner of Rosemary’s cage and waited for Batu to pass.IMG_7417.JPG

Batu is a beautiful young elephant, who looks healthy, unfortunately though she doesn’t have any elephant friends and is the only elephant kept at the zoo. Poor girl. She was rescued from the north of the country where her wild elephant family had been killed. The Zoo acts as a rescue centre to orphan wild animals, and have worked hard to care for her as best they can.

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Kumasi zoo has beautiful grounds, covering six hectares of lush forest. Most of this is unused as a majority of the animals are kept in small cages due to funding issues. A great little NGO called WAPCA have used some of this forest to create an electric fence enclosure for the critically endangered white naped mangabeys they care for. These little monkeys will be moving in to their new crib in June so I will update you with pictures then. If only there was the funding for a similar facility to be developed for the chimpanzees.

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On another note, I got a call yesterday when I was working at the zoo. It was a husky Ghanaian male voice. ‘Morning sweetheart’ ‘Good morning, how are you?’ I answered. ‘I am fine, how are you?’ ‘Fine, sorry but who is this?’ ‘I got your number through my spiritual mirror, sister’ he explained. ‘Right’ odd answer I thought, ‘and something very bad is coming- You need to follow my instructions. Do not make sex with a man for one week, get one white candle, one yellow candle and one black candle, and a handkerchief, then for the ceremony…’ At this point I realised the call was going to take a while and probably involve him requesting money at some point, So I kindly thanked him for his warning, told him I had to get back to work and that was that. I never know what to expect here.

Maybe he was going to direct me to a traditional medicine stall….

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