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people and community rescued chimps get a second chance at life

2 min read | march 03, 2023

Chevron’s Sheila Silvestre was working from her Angola office when an unusual request crossed her desk: Could she assist in a rescue mission?

The fate of a unique set of refugees hung in the balance — a group of abused and neglected chimpanzees.

“How could I say no?” said Silvestre, a Luanda-based Corporate Affairs advisor. “We thought it was a good opportunity to support the community. Everybody at Chevron was on board from that perspective, but there were certain measures we needed to take internally before we could commit.”

operation monkey business

Chevron is not normally in the business of rescuing chimps, but in July our Angolan subsidiary Cabinda Gulf Oil Company Limited did just that.

We helped:

  • Junior, who was voluntarily given up by his owner in 2017.
  • Xico, saved by a passerby in October 2020 near the Kwanza River.
  • Manuela, who was found at a park in November 2021.
  • Cesar, a rescued baby chimp.

The creatures were to move from a temporary shelter at Association AngoFauna to Jane Goodall’s Tchimpounga Sanctuary in the Republic of Congo.

We were asked to lend Tchimpounga one of our leased airplanes to fly the primates from Luanda to Cabinda, a trip that would have been a nearly 14-hour journey by land, but only an hour journey by flight. From there, the animals would take land transportation to the sanctuary.

a big ask

Helping out the primates might seem like a simple request, but it involved layers of bureaucracy. Part of Silvestre’s role was to ensure that we were complying with rules and that conditions would be met to ensure the safety of the chimps.

One stipulation was that the youngest chimp, Cesar, who wears a diaper and drinks milk from a bottle, rode in the cabin. Another consideration was minimizing stress for the chimps.

chimpanzee being bottle fed
sleeping chimp
chimpanzee in tree

uma equipa

In Portuguese (one of Angola’s most popular languages), the phrase “uma equipa” is used to describe team culture. That culture was put into full force as several departments came together to pull off the rescue.

a happy ending

It took months to meet all the requirements, but the mission was accomplished in July 2022 when the creatures were relayed to their new home.

“We were actually joking internally saying this is literally monkey business,” Silvestre said. “But in a good sense. It’s good to see how Corporate Affairs handles various situations and how we can positively affect the community.”

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