| SAO PAULO – Staff at the Primate Sanctuary in Sorocaba, Sao Paulo, hope that 2012 will be a special year for Jimmy the Chimpanzee, who has a new companion. Jimmy, who suffered maltreatment at the Niteroi Zoo in Rio de Janeiro, arrived at the sanctuary four months ago.
Staff say that Jimmy is still shy and not interested in dating, but they say, just living with his new companion, Samantha, is already a great achievement. While most chimps live in groups and like human contact, Jimmy still prefers isolation and silence. The staff at the sanctuary understand Jimmy’s behavior, based on what they learned from news accounts of his life.
At the Niteroi Zoo in Rio de Janeiro, Jimmy – a retired circus performer – spent his days painting pictures for tourists and smoking the occasional cigarette. He was a hit at the zoo but he didn’t seem happy there. He didn’t like to play with toys or enjoy other diversions like other primates so trainer Roched Seba introduced him to painting which he took to right away – to the delight of visitors.
After a lifetime of abuse at the circus and ten years in a cage at the zoo, Jimmy is different from other animals of the same species. He walks more slowly, rarely gets angry and doesn’t play much.
Staffers mission is to get the chimpanzee to reconnect with his instincts, his identity and with Samantha. Since Jimmy arrived four months ago, only Samantha has entered the premises of his 3,000 square meter (32,000 square foot) personal sanctuary. Jimmy didn’t get too excited over Samantha’s arrival but he didn’t harm her either. Staffers say the fact that he didn’t hurt Samantha is a promising indicator.
In the sanctuary, 53 chimpanzees are protected from predators and irresponsible humans. Like Jimmy, many are in the place to try to forget that they were once treated very badly. Since there is no turning back time, they will live behind walls forever but they will have the chance to form families and to present to the world their offspring.
Source(s) for this article: G1 SP/Associated Press