MY LOVE STORY WITH THE LATE ZAK.
“On this day 27th.October, that would have been another year added to him I find it satisfying to eulogize my Animal Celebrity that sparked my love for the wild beasts”.
In the 80’s as a young and innocent girl, I met this jolly Zak at Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Center Entebbe (UWEC). He was 17 and I had just started learning how to count my fingers from One to Ten. In a cemented cage where the paradise play center children swimming pool is currently seated, we exchanged grins, imaginable handshakes and vocals – this happened every time I stole time off to the Zoo during weekly days and on Sundays it was an automatic check as I passed through the Zoo to connect to Sacred Heart Bugonga church for prayers via the famous Entebbe golf course (Kakeeka).
My love with Zakayo kept on blossoming, as I got attracted to him each minute I spent watching him swing on the car tyres in his cage, doing his thump chests, roll into his blanket (that was part of his enrichment ) and of course his manly vocals.
On the way we were joined by Ruth and Amina the female chimps that became Zakayo’s companions, this however did not affect our intimacy, it instead made it stronger, because in the night I slept well assured that Zakayo had loved ones besides him.
At 46 years it was all joy at the Budongo Island – Zakayo’s next new environmental friendly home from the cage, as he celebrated a life land mark of a year added to the known 45years that chimps don’t normally live beyond This was a real turning point for Zakayo as he earned himself a title from me; “Uganda’s Animal Celebrity”.
The Birthdays kept on happening until 2018 in April when this darling who had turned 54 succumbed to Chronic Gastroenteritis combined with old age. I can say that Zakayo aged gracefully as a primate ambassador that welcomed and helped in the integration of every chimpanzee that found itself at UWEC as a result of human cruelty towards these human relatives.
He was a loving husband to Amina and Ruth whom he devotedly and equally loved because one could hardly tell who he loved more and as a stepfather to Amina’s son Shaka, Zakayo raised Shaka into another jolly chimpanzee and this he continued doing to all other chimpanzees that came in during the 42year the spent on the island.
Rest well my Conservation Ambassador.