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our closest relative

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CHIMFUNSHI   xxxxxxxx A refugee center for chimpanzees, Chimfunshi was the largest of its kind in the world. Chimpanzees from around the world, that had been in captivity for any reason, found their way to Chimfunshi if they were lucky.  Dave and Sheila Siddel, who ran the place, were salt of the earth wonderful people.  They'd rescued chimps from zoos, parks, private owners, and laboratories.

The Siddels never really set out to save chimpanzees around the world.  That task just sort of fell into their laps.  They were cattle farmers.  One day one of their son-in-laws brought home a sick chimp that he purchased in Kitwe. Sheila, ever caring and nurturing, was able to nurse the chimp back to health.  I guess that was an unheard of success.  Word spread that someone in Zambia knew how to help take care of chimps that had suffered in captivity.  Over the years, they'd acquired "children" from all over the world.  On my visit they had over seventy chimpanzees, fifteen born on their farm.  In the circles of people who knew about primates, Dave and Sheila were right up there with their friend Jane Goodall.

I was the only person staying with them the night I was there.  It was wonderful to have their undivided attention that evening.  Several videos had been made of their work at Chimfunshi.  They must have seen them all about a gazillion times, but they showed me two of their favorites.  It was quite a unique experience to watch the videos about the Siddels with their chimps while sitting in their living room watching them play with baby Miracle. 

MARTIN
 
Copyright 1999 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved. ARTIN