Located in Central Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is an all-too-common hunting ground for relentless poachers. Picture being an orphaned baby chimpanzee in this perilous environment.
According to DRC-based Lwiro Primates (locally referred to as The Centre for the Rehabilitation for Primates), regional poaching activity increased dramatically after the Second Congo War.
This intense conflict, also known as the “Great War of Africa,” took place between 1998 and 2003.
Technically, that means local wildlife became one of the war’s key casualties. The Lwiro Primates sanctuary was founded to give the area’s endangered chimps and monkeys a secure dwelling place that would help keep these beautiful creatures safe and strong.
Recently, a tiny orphaned chimp named Mussa was nabbed from vicious poachers just in the nick of time. He was then whisked from Beni, DRC, to his new home at the sanctuary.
Mussa was lucky to have a skilled, compassionate pilot named Anthony Caere helming his getaway plane. The pair flew in a compact Zenith STOL, otherwise known as the “Sky Jeep” for its rugged dependability.
Caere recorded a brief cockpit video during their trip. One view, and you’ll instantly understand why the short snippet has become an immediate viral sensation across social media.
Caere strongly believed that little Mussa shouldn’t be confined to a cramped enclosure during their skyward journey. “A baby needs hugs and compassion,” explained Caere on his Instagram account, “instead of being locked up in a cage during a stressful flight.”
So Mussa was essentially invited to co-pilot. And the super-sweet primate certainly earned his keep.
Caere’s adorable footage shows Mussa climbing into the passenger seat, then perching companionably on the pilot’s lap. The fascinated baby chimp scans the horizon while the plane taxis, making sure everything’s clear for takeoff.
A short time later, Mussa can be seen checking the throttle, just to confirm they’ve reached the appropriate altitude. Caere is glad to provide some payback, so he helps untangle the tiny primate’s fur.
After some more enthralled gazing out the window, a tuckered-out Mussa finally decides it’s nap time. So he curls up comfortably on his new friend’s leg, and he’s instantly out like a light.
And before the little guy even knows it, he’s being welcomed into his wonderful new home with open arms. Perhaps this type of thing is all in a day’s work for dedicated pilots like Anthony Caere — but the rest of us know he’s giving the world’s irreplaceable creatures a brand new lease on life.
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