Hi Friends of JACK!
My name is Stacy Best. I am an American ex-pat living in Lubumbashi. I have been volunteering at JACK for approximately 3 months. I am a Registered Nurse but am not currently practicing here in DRC. My daughters came home from school one day and told me about JACK. I contacted Roxane to see if more volunteers were needed.
I assist with the morning bottles Monday through Friday and with the evening bottles Tuesday through Friday. There are four of us that feed, two nannies, myself, and another American ex-pat, Kori Howard.
Feeding time early in the morning: it must go very fast as the orphan chimpanzees are not patient
When we first walk into the feeding area at 0730 the chimps are very vocal and anxious for that first bottle of warm milk. It’s a bit overwhelming to the senses! All those arms reaching out and each one of them wants to be first. Chimpanzees are not patient. We initially hand out each of the labeled bottles that contain warm milk and yogurt. When the chimps are finished drinking their milk, they hold out their empty bottles for a refill. Some drink two bottles, some drink three. Some of the chimps, especially Shasa and Jacky, try to steal others’ bottles as well!
Zamba and Wanza drink out of bottles with nipples.
The rest of them drink out of plastic baby bottles without nipples. When they are finished with their milk, they just drop their bottles. Sometimes there is still milk in the bottles and they like to watch the milk pour out. I have come out of the morning feed with milk in my hair, on my shoes, and down my back.
The morning feeding takes less than 10 minutes. Once feeding is finished, one of the nannies goes out into the enclosure and Kori and I stand on an observation ledge while the chimps are released into the outdoor enclosure. We then observe the chimps for injuries. We can see if one of them is favoring an extremity while playing or walking with a limp. It is easier for me to identify the chimps while they are outside. They all have very distinct personalities and behaviors.
Enjoying the first sunbeams of the day
In the afternoon my daughters, ages 13 and 11, also help with the feedings. They have specific chimps that they feed. One feeds Zamba and one feeds Doguy.
After the evening milk, the chimps are given their fruit, vegetables and bread in the nighttime enclosure. It is very interesting to observe their behaviors while eating. For example, Wimbi likes to eat all the bread. He takes as much as he can hold and sits in the corner eating it. Jac, on the other hand, likes to sit in the middle of the food. The last activity of the afternoon feeding is the passing out of blankets. Chita and Seki start whining if the blankets are a little late being handed out.
Chita whines too much if his blankets aren’t ready
My family and I are very proud to be associated with the work that JACK is doing. Not only are we volunteers, but we have adopted Zamba as well. Roxane and Franck work tirelessly to help the chimps and every bit of help they receive is appreciated.
Hi again. I would just like to follow up to some of the questions I have recieved. We moved to Lubumbashi 2 years ago. My husband works for Freeport McMoRan, formerly Phelps Dodge, and is involved with the start up of a large copper mine. I admit that I did not do much, other than play golf, the first year we were here. It took me awhile to adjust to living in the DRC. It was quite a culture shock after living in Scottsdale, AZ! I was introduced to JACK through my children who met Roxane at their school. Education of the younger members of the community is an integral part of JACK. I went along on a field trip to the zoo with one of my daughters. One day Roxane suggested that I come for a personal visit and we were hooked! Yes, my nursing experience helps with the chimps. In assessment of a chimp, it is similar to that of a child in that they are unable to communicate verbally what is wrong. Whenever I’m feeding them, I check their skin and veins for signs of dehydration. I know just where I would go for a blood sample! Just this afternoon Roxane and I were discussing birth control options for chimpanzees. This will be a concern in the near future. Surprisingly the chimps are quite fragile and susceptible to illness. If any of the volunteers or nannies has a cold, they are not allowed in with the chimps. Medication dosages are handled in the same manner as with children, based on body weight. Natural remedies also work well. For example, charcoal for diarrhea as opposed to Immodium or another antidiarrheal. We are quite strict with our handwashing so as to avoid cross contamination between the quarantine chimps and the main population. As my daughters and I prepare to leave the country for summer/winter vacation, we are sad about leaving the chimps. We hope they remember us when we return in 8 weeks!
Thank you for sharing your pictures and your stories. They are all precious. Chita is a cutie – and I think we all whine a little when are blankets are late, I know I do.
Do you find your medical training helpful in spotting little injuries from a distance. Do they suffer from the everyday maladies that children suffer from occasionally – like runny noses, upset tummies, etc.
Thanks again for sharing and I look forward to more stories and pictures.
Jealousy does not begin to describe the feeling! What a wonderful experience to share with your children. I’d like to hear more about how you made your way to JACK and what you were doing up until 3 months ago. Thanks for the terrific photos of all of the cuties, the detailed information and for helping to save these wonderful animals.
Thank you much for the post and for the work you do. You and the girls look as fulfilled as the chimps. I absolutely love animals and got the biggest smile knowing the chimps are in good hands. “Bless the beasts and the children” and peace be with you.
You are so lucky! What a blessed job you have…….thanks for taking care of these precious animals!
Stacy, What a wonderful and enriching experience you are giving your daughters and thank you for sharing it with us. My boys and I would love to do something like that someday. Good for you. Lisa
Wanza, Zamba, Chita, Stacy… Beautiful chimps. Thank you for taking care them with so much love.
You and your girls are just about the luckiest gals in the world right about now — thanks so……….much for posting!
Stacy — Oh wow! I am so jealous, what a magnificent place to volunteer! These pictures are fantastic…and many thanks for posting one of Wanza…he is one of my favorite little guys! Thanks for all you and your daughters do…i am sure Roxane and Franck must be thrilled to death that you are there.