At the beginning of 2018 Monkey World was contacted by the Faruk Yalçın Zoo asking if they would be able to take an adult female chimpanzee that had been an illegal pet and had been left at the zoo.
Toprish would have been taken from her family in the wild after hunters killed her mother and probably several others. The adults are usually sold as bush meat and the tiny baby orphans are shoved into a basket and smuggled out of the forest and then across the globe in the horrific black market trade. We estimate that for every chimpanzee that makes it out of Africa alive at LEAST 10 will have died. It appears that Toprish was “ordered” from a Syrian animal dealer so that a wealthy family could have a pet. People sometimes think that at least the babies from the pet trade are not abused once they are in someone’s home, but they are. They are taken away from any form of meaningful behaviour and companionship of their own kind, and inevitably end up with little if any chimpanzee behaviour which makes their rehabilitation very difficult.
Moving an adult chimpanzee is never easy especially when it is overseas. The paperwork and organisation took several months; Alison asked the Monkey World Vet, John Lewis to go with her so that he could work with the zoo vets on giving Toprish a health check and make sure that her anaesthetic went as smoothly as possible. It was a 4.30am start as they had to get Toprish to the cargo area at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport before 7.00am so that her papers could be processed prior to the afternoon flight. By the time they finally made it back to Monkey World it had been a 22 hour day. Toprish was calm and seemed happy throughout the journey, watching out of her windows, eating snacks throughout, and enjoying the warm blankets inside of the box. It was great to see how relaxed she was.
Toprish is female, estimated at approximately 8 years old. As she had been kept as a pet during the early, formative years of her life, Toprish is very ‘humanised’ and has a few quirky behaviours not normally seen in chimps such as sticking her tongue out at people. Luckily for her, since her arrival at the park, she can now start to learn to be a chimp again.