• Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

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Three years later, Zakayo celebrates Birthday in silence

Zakayo, whose name is synonymous with chimpanzees, was a known oldest chimpanzee under captivity prior to its death in April 2018. Before dying at the age of 54years, Zakayo had spent 42years at the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) commonly known as Entebbe Zoo.

Martin Muggara (4th left) the minister of state for tourism with UWEC officials led by Dr. James Musinguzi (left) having a picture moment infront of Zakayo monument recently

Zakayo was abandoned in June 1964 at Semliki national park in Bundibugyo district before he was picked and hand raised by a white man who later surrendered the Chimp to UWEC on June 09, 1976. Prior to his death, Zakayo had two wives, Ruth and Amina and left a son named Shaka whom he sired with Amina.

He was the alpha male until 2010 when he passed on the reins to Matooke and saw the same power being passed on to Aruma. David Musingo, the UWEC manager in charge of education, described Zakayo as an intelligent and a great father figure who could never eat before the children ate. “He also made sure there was good leadership within the Chimpanzee family and whenever there was a fight, he would intervene,” narrated Musingo.

Dr. James Musinguzi, the UWEC boss underscored the late Zakayo’s importance in the integration process of all the chimpanzees that were brought in after rehabilitation. “Many Chimpanzees in other countries die during the integration process but we were lucky not to register a single death during such a process, thanks to Zakayo,” said Dr. Musinguzi.

Eric Ntalo, the public affairs manager at UWEC said, Zakayo’s birthday continues to be celebrated every October 27, in order to align with the happiness and his contribution towards Uganda’s tourism and conservation efforts. Due to old age, Zakayo was vulnerable to many diseases and later succumbed to Chronic Gastroenteritis, a condition of persistent vomiting and diarrhea caused by either viral or bacterial infection. Whereas his remains were buried at UWEC in 2018, his skeleton was preserved for viewing and other studies.

Tourists viewing Chimpanzees at the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre during the celebration of Zakayo legacy

According to Dr. Musinguzi, UWEC is using Zakayo’s birthday to highlight the plight of the remaining Chimpanzees which are gradually losing their habitats to human activities. His birthday comes at a time when UWEC and Ngamba  Chimpanzee Sanctuary, in partnership with Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka are contemplating on vaccinating all eligible captive chimps against COVID-19.

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