Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Trust

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About Us

    Since 1969, we have been working to give orphaned chimpanzees the opportunity to grow up free and independent in their natural environment, rather than leaving them to their all too frequent fates as sad captives in a human world, or worse, as substitute humans in a laboratory.

    We are now the longest running chimpanzee rehabilitation project in Africa. We protect and monitor a total population of seventy-six chimpanzees occupying three islands in the River Gambia National Park. Many of these chimps were born on the islands, the sons and daughters of the distressed orphans nurtured back to health and rehabilitated there over twenty years ago. Three infants born recently are third generation - grandchildren of whom we are extremely proud. The fact that these chimpanzees are able to competently bear and mother their own offspring means we have succeeded in saving not just the individuals brought to us but the many generations that will follow.



The Project

    The project was initially established by Stella Marsden, nee Brewer, as a solution for a group of chimps confiscated from hunters and traders by the Gambian wildlife authorities.

    In 2000 the project was registered as a UK charity (No.1081151) under the name of the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Trust.

    Funding the project's work has always been difficult. Initially, proceeds were derived from the sales of The Forest Dwellers, a book written by Stella Brewer, and a one-hour documentary film of the project made by Hugo van Lawick. However, these sources dried up many years ago.

    Since 1981, we have operated a special adoption scheme as a means of generating funds for the project that has been our main source of funding over the years. Some of our sponsors have been with us for more than twenty years and have followed their chimp through adolescence into adulthood and finally into parenthood, and, in one case, even into grandparenthood!!

    The newsletters, sent to sponsors twice annually, are written by Stella Marsden from the unique and privileged position of having shared almost an entire lifetime of adventure with these chimps as they rediscovered and now colonize their wild environment. The newsletters are a serialized description of an extraordinary community, covering its daily tasks, its eccentricities, its celebration of births and the grief and trauma of its occasional deaths. The newsletters are also a means whereby the chimps, simply by being their fascinating selves, raise their own funds without that fund-raising jeopardizing their freedom or the way they live. This distinctive adoption scheme was, in part, the reason for Stella Marsden being awarded the Order of the Golden Ark by H.R.H., Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands in 1999.

    Managing the project and protecting the islands is an ongoing task, one to which there is no foreseeable end, for we will need to protect the chimps for as long as humans continue to pose a threat to them. This costs money, which we have to constantly generate. If you would also like to contribute to the protection and well being of these chimps, then you can, by simply adopting one of them.

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