When Kenza was still a nursing infant, a poacher killed her mother to supply Cameroon's illegal, commercial ape meat trade. Being too small to have much value for meat, the baby female was sold as a pet to a Catholic bishop in the town of Batouri, about 150 kilometers from Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center. After keeping her for several months, the bishop contacted the management of Sanaga-Yong Center in May 2009, seeking a better home for the baby chimpanzee. Raymond Tchimisso, Sanaga-Yong Center's Chief of Personnel met the bishop's driver half-way between the two locations and picked up the baby chimpanzee.
When Raymond returned to Sanaga-Yong Center with the two year old baby, she was suffering from malnourishment, anemia, lice infestation and depression. Although she would tremble with fear when the Sanaga-Yong Center staff approached, they quickly recognized what a wonderful personality the scared little girl had. They chose the name of Kenza, which means "treasure" in the Arabic language.
Shortly after Kenza's arrival Dr. Sheri Speede examined her and quickly diagnosed the contributing factor to Kenza's anemia, a heavy load of intestinal worms. Chimpanzees living free in the forest are able to prevent parasite infections from becoming too serious by constantly moving around looking for food and spending much of their time in the trees. They also eat certain kinds of leaves that kill the parasites. Unfortunately when they are held in small cages, their parasite numbers can increase rapidly and become fatal.
With medication for the parasites and good nutrition, including infant milk formula four times per day, baby Kenza's health quickly improved. After a few days of gentle care, she began to overcome her fear and allow herself to be embraced and even carried by her caregivers. Her social skills have greatly improved since her arrival!
Today, Kenza is the youngest in a nursery group of nine juveniles. Her friends are Xeko, Daniel, Shy, Ginger, Tilly, Launa, Sambe and Baati. Baati is particularly fond of her and has assumed the role of big brother, protecting Kenza, carrying her around and comforting her with gentle hugs. The two are pictured together below. Baati caring for Kenza is a common and heartwarming sight!
Pictured (from the top) are Kenza arriving at Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center, her first few days in her new home and Baati and Kenza.