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September 15, 2003
|In the northern reaches of Zambia, 300 kilometers distant from Lusaka, a chimpanzee sanctuary exists. The trick is reaching it without a four wheel drive vehicle. We start at 4:30 AM in Lusaka's city bus station. The bus driver asks if we have a ticket. "No," we reply. The driver tells us to wait outside for a ticket seller. As more and more people arrive and get on the bus, we realize that no ticket seller is coming and no one has a ticket anyway, so we slip onto the bus when the driver looks away; possessing a seat is more important than having a ticket when the bus gets filled (a ticket can be bought but it's very hard to move a person out of a seat). Our plan works. The bus attendant sees us already seated and sells us two tickets. The bus leaves shortly thereafter, filled like a saturday nite club, and five hours later we arrive in Chingola, the northernmost town. Standing in nowhereville, townspeople instantly know we're tourists here to visit the chimpanzee sanctuary. They tell us where to find the chimp keepers and that's how we meet up with the right people. The chimp keepers run about town and buy food for the chimpanzees. They buy all of the bananas, oranges, and kasavas in Chingola and the surrounding area. We sit in the back of their truck, squashed between fifty pound bags of produce, as the truck travels into the hinterland.|
Like a pair of chimps, we sit in the cage on the back of the truck used to transport chimpanzees.
After a 12 hour journey from Lusaka we arrive at the chimpanzee reserve called Chimfunshi. It's an old farm converted into a chimp park. We camp outside of the farmhouse with the other animals.
The chimp keepers: Sheila, the reserve's founder (on the left), and her daughter Sylvia, heir to one hundred chimps (on the right).