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Chimpanzee Zakayo turns 43

By Vision Reporter

Added 1st August 2007 03:00 AM

A SIX kilogramme cake is being baked to celebrate the 43rd birthday of Zakayo, the oldest chimpanzee at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. The celebrations will be held on August 15 under the theme; “Conserve chimps and their habitats.’’

A SIX kilogramme cake is being baked to celebrate the 43rd birthday of Zakayo, the oldest chimpanzee at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. The celebrations will be held on August 15 under the theme; “Conserve chimps and their habitats.’’

By Gerald Tenywa

A SIX kilogramme cake is being baked to celebrate the 43rd birthday of Zakayo, the oldest chimpanzee at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC). The celebrations will be held on August 15 under the theme; “Conserve chimps and their habitats.’’

Zakayo is undergoing lessons in table manners to prepare him for the occasion, which will be witnessed by students and conservationists in Entebbe.

“For the last three weeks, we have been training him on how to hold a knife,’’ Peace Nakitto, a conservation educator at the centre said yesterday.

“We want him to cut his cake during the party,” she added.

Nakitto said students from Entebbe are expected to participate in the festivities, which will also include an awareness session about the threats to chimps in the wilderness.

According to Jimmy Awany, a chimp keeper, Zakayo is very protective and fatherly to young chimps, especially Onapa, Aluma and Shaka.
He has reservations for his rival called Matooke, whom attendants describe as mischievous.

“Matooke has shown his intentions to take over the group because he has started mating with the females,’’ Awany noted.

Zakayo, “married” to Amina and Ruth, likes spending hours resting, grooming or being groomed by one of his two wives.
His favourite food is egg plants. He also loves tangerines and jack fruit.

Zakayo, an alpha male in the chimpanzee group, was found in June 1972 at Semliki, in Bundibugyo district.

He was surrendered to Entebbe Zoo on June 19, 1976 after he became difficult to manage.

His reign has not been a bed of roses as he lived in a cage with a concrete floor, next to four other chimps.

The visitors would offer him cigarettes and alcohol and tease him, making him very angry.

But this changed when Entebbe Zoo became the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre.

A new home was built for the chimpanzee group and they now live together in a semi-wild setting. Zakayo has sired only one child, called Shaka.

Chimpanzee Zakayo turns 43

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