J.A.C.K. Sanctuary, a place dedicated to life. In fact the name itself is in honor of one of the first lives that the sanctuary ever took care of. These lives, are those that have been neglected, abused, and forgotten. These lives are those of chimps. J.A.C.K. Sanctuary gives these chimps the priceless gift of a family. A family that takes care of one another and constantly strives to keep each other afloat.
My time at J.A.C.K. Sanctuary was particularly rewarding.
I’ve been visiting Lubumbashi for the past 16 years, but never actually heard about the ape rescue center. It would come up in conversations here and there, but I had no clue that in the heart of Lubumbashi 38 chimpanzees were being fed and housed.
This summer two of my friends joined me on my trip to Lubumbashi to intern at mining companies. I had put in a request to VinMart Foundation for us to volunteer somewhere every Saturday, and that’s when we were directed to J.A.C.K.!
The second we entered the gates we saw trees, fauna, and life. Roxane and the caretakers, welcomed us with the biggest smiles on their faces. We took a tour of the entire facility and had a chance to meet some of the chimps while they were inside. Meanwhile, Roxane shared stories of the different chimp’s upbringings. We learned about the harsh realities that these primatess have to face and how they haven’t only been physically harmed, but also psychologically.
Then our work started. Our first task was to make rice balls for the chimps to eat later. We then filled socks with tennis balls, fruit and peanuts. We put leaves in boxes and hid toys and food.
We hid all of these items around the enclosure and when the chimps were released during the day they went around trying to find the different items we had prepared for them.
They found things, which took us 10 minutes to hide in less than 30 seconds, and they found them with acrobatic finesse, it was a sight to see.
We were also able to take part in feeding the chimps. We chopped some of the veggies and tossed them into the enclosure. However, it was especially exciting because some of the chimps actually caught the food in their hands and they started to recognize us and they started letting their hands out to indicate that they wanted to catch the food. I definitely improved with my knife and throwing skills.
Overall, J.A.C.K. Sanctuary has done a wonderful job as a conservatory especially in Lubumbashi where no one has ever done such a thing. I’ll definitely be visiting J.A.C.K. next time in Lubumbashi and continue volunteering with them. Definitely consider visiting next time you’re in Lubumbashi as it’s a site to see and gives you a whole new perspective to life.