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Chimpanzee & Wildlife Orphan Care Project, Zambia

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Social Life

    7

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Community Impact

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Volunteer Experience

    9

A truly amazing experience with chimpanzees

Going into my arrival at Chimfunshi, I was worried that I was supporting a tourist trap or zoo-like attraction that promotes animal captivity. With our first tour of the property, it was clear as day that Chimfunshi is not any of those things. It is a sanctuary where chimpanzees truly have the chance to live like they would in the wild, yet with the safety of protected land. As a volunteer, you are involved with many different aspect going towards the greater goal at the sanctuary, from farming the fruits and veggies that feed the chimps, to behavioral therapy. A usual day at Chimfunshi was never quite that usual, which was the part I enjoyed the most about this program! One day we would spend our mornings at the nursery, planting new fruit trees, followed by an afternoon of harvesting in the orchards - then chucking these harvested oranges for snack time was always a riot. The following day we would start off the day with preparing food for the chimps, followed by lunch with the keepers, (who are AWESOME!) then cleaning the feeding area, with an afternoon fixing and maintaining some of the infrastructures around the property. Cleaning, feeding, farming, and observing were part of the main daily chores, and we even spent some time at the orphanage and with Sheila Siddle, which was an honour. This program is not for the faint of heart though, with my experience, there was a lot of manual labour, spending a lot of time outdoors and working hard! Which, for myself, was great. I felt that with each evening that came, we had accomplished much throughout our day, and that is one of the most important goals for myself as a volunteer. And it should not go unnoted that you are in the middle of the equatorial jungle, and the evenings can be VERY quiet, especially if you are only one or two volunteers. Although the administration and volunteer managers are awesome, you will need to be prepared to keep yourself entertained in the evenings. Town trips were long and exhausting, and I eventually opted out of these trips and spent the days with the keepers instead. The best part of being at Chimfunshi was definitely the opportunity to observe and understand the way chimps are! Each chimp, you learn, has their own personality and traits, and with time you learn the family hierarchy and grow to have favourites within each community. (Zsabu holds a special place in my heart!) Another great feature, especially if you are keen to learn about apes, is the knowledge that the keepers have and are willing to share, and not only that, they are equally curious and wanting to learn from you. One of my favourite moments during my time there was sitting around the cookfire one lunchtime at enclosures 1 and 2 with the keepers, where we had a long conversation about animals from different areas of the world, and they had so many questions about the animals from Canada, and we would discuss each unique animal at great lengths, until they were satisfied and moved on to the next animal they had heard comes from my home country. Just thinking about this memory brings a big smile to my face! I feel privileged to have had such a great experience volunteering at Chimfunshi Wildlife Sanctuary! Ps. Definitely read Sheila's book AFTER you visit Chimfunshi, being able to relate to what you're reading was great.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

My time with the Chimps, is a time I'll never forget.

The Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Zambia is an amazing place to be. When I got there, I knew nothing about Chimpanzee's, thankfully the staff and other volunteers graciously helped me catch on quick. We would start our day's out by biking to the enclosure for a visit with some of the chimps in the escape artist enclosure. We'd make things for them to play with and keep them busy, like puzzle boxes with fruit inside them, and they would have to try to get the fruit out, or we'd hide things for them to find. We'd also help the keepers make the food for Chimps. Every day we'd get an hour for lunch where we were free to do whatever we please. I spent most of my lunches helping the keepers feed the chimps, and playing peek-a-boo or tickles with some of the baby chimps. After lunch we'd do an activity like fishing, canoeing, helping out on the farm, or just playing with the chimps in the orphanage. On the weekends we'd go for a town trip. A town trip is where we'd go into town for a few hours and get somethings we need, like grocery shopping, or getting supplies that we might have ran out of. My time there was amazing and went by so fast, but I will never forget it. I met so many lifelong friends that I hope to see when I go back!

Institution Affiliates:

World Youth Student & Educational Travel Confederation