Nobody will ever fully understand the trauma that a baby chimpanzee named Bonita may never forget.
Bonita was born in the wild of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, living under the nurturing and protective arms of her mother.
But in a flash, Bonita’s world was changed forever. Poachers found Bonita’s mother and, according to rescue organization Lwiro Primates, killed her while Bonita was present.
The organization has stated poachers snatched Bonita up, tied a rope around her and shoved her inside a plastic bag.
For days, Bonita waited inside the bag hidden in the bushes until the right buyer came along.
Not all chimpanzees escape the hands of a poacher, but in Bonita’s case, animal welfare workers were able to successfully rescue her before it was too late.
After a nearly 200-mile journey and many caring hands along the way, Lwiro Primates staff members were able to bring Bonita safely to their sanctuary near the provincial capital of South Kivu. But Bonita’s behavior indicated that she felt anything but safe after her stressful, scary ordeal.
Bonita’s trauma was evident to the staff, who watched with aching hearts as the chimp repeatedly tried to stay hidden underneath a blanket.
“After witnessing the murder of her mum, this little girl was kept attached to a rope inside a plastic bag in the bushes waiting for a ‘buyer,’” the organization wrote on Facebook. “She is smart and independent (probably forced to be), but she keeps hiding herself under the blanket.”
“Maybe as consequence of being kept in a bag for days, maybe because she just wants to hide herself from the world,” the post continued.
Lwiro Primates posted a video of Bonita nestled in a soft bed of blankets, eating bananas while she kept a blanket over her head. She would peek out from time to time before pulling the cover back over her eyes.
“It will take time to make her laugh again, to see her play and behave as a chimpanzee,” Lwiro Primates wrote. “The good news is that she is eating well.”
About a day after posting the video, Lwiro Primates gave an optimistic update on their girl, announcing her name and writing that “she is already feeling more confident and secure.”
A rescue operation like Bonita’s takes many resources and involves considerable risk, but the look of hope and security on a chimpanzee’s face makes it worth the effort.
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