Happy Birthday Siala!

We would like to wish a very happy birthday to Siala, who turned 6 years old this month! Siala was born in March 2008 at the CCC. Her mom, Lola, is an orphan chimpanzee who Estelle (the CCC Director) rescued from the illegal pet trade in 1996.

Siala’s birth was a complete surprise to us, as every mature female at the CCC is on contraception. We have a no breeding policy while females are still in captivity because we want to ensure that we have room for new orphan chimpanzees. But as we found out, contraception doesn’t always work! Lola was supposed to be released in June 2008 with the first group, but we didn’t want to put Siala’s young life at risk. A release is a stressful event and we feared that it would prevent Lola from lactating. So Siala safely spent the first three years of her life at the CCC and grew up with a very strong personality!

Siala as a baby

Siala as a baby

Lola and Siala were released in August 2011 with Annie and were integrated with the first released group. Lola was reunited with her friends Albert, Robert, Lottie, Mama and Nanou, her best friend. During their first year of freedom, Lola and Siala spent most of their time together in a nice part of the forest in the core release area. More recently, they have been spending a lot of time in a valley a few kilometers west of the release site, an area well known for its wild chimpanzee population.  Last April 2013, we spotted Lola and Siala while searching for Annie, and noticed that there were a wild male and female with them.

Robert with Siala and Lola

Robert with Siala and Lola

Lola and Siala in 2013

Lola and Siala in 2013

Siala symbolizes hope; despite being born in captivity, she was raised by her mother and showed little interest in humans. She represents the second generation of our release group, which is key to the release program’s success. We wish Siala a very happy and long life in the forest, and hope that one day she will become a mother to a first generation of wild born chimpanzees. Our teams continue to watch over her and her friends from a distance!


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