association "Les Amis des Animaux au Congo" (A.A.C) - the
Friends of Animals in Congo, a non-profit organization, was created in
1994 by a group of Kinshasa residents aiming to save the Zoo of Kinshasa.
intervention was key in maintaining activities at the Zoological Gardens
and in improving the welfare and diet of the animals. The Kinshasa Zoo
indeed remains the only place in town where children can learn about their
environment and have some contact with the fauna of their country.
soon after the A.A.C had confiscated its first bonobos in collaboration
with the Ministry of Land Issues, Environment and Touristic Development,
the association focused its efforts on the protection of the bonobo, this
great ape species unique to Congo and now severely endangered.
|In December 1994, the A.A.C , thus refocused its activities towards the creation of a bonobo sanctuary in Kinshasa. This decision was motivated by the following objectives :|
Right from the start, a strong partnership was set up between the Ministry of Environment and the A.A.C for the confiscation of bonobos for sale in town.
WHY A SANCTUARY
20 baby or juvenile bonobos, the A.A.C's Bonobo Sanctuary of Congo is home
to the largest group of bonobos in semi-liberty in the world.
Beyond protection of orphaned bonobos confiscated in the streets of Kinshasa, the Sanctuary's main objective is the protection of bonobos in situ through education, in particular education of the Congolese youth.
The Sanctuary should nevertheless allow the creation of a genetically diversified group of adult bonobos, which can be maintained in semi-liberty or even reintroduced in their natural habitat in the long term, if need be.
|"... During years of volunteer work at
the Zoological Park of Kinshasa, I noted the significant impact that
animals have on children and their behavior.
Their curiosity, their desire to learn convinced me that direct visual contact with animals is the best educational tool for African children ... and let us remember : did not the Western world also start its own mass mesological education and environmental protection approach in the same way ?
Today, aren't these rehabilitated zoos still an important educational support in large cities ?
A large part of the population concentrated in the cities of my country, the DRC, will probably never have the financial means to visit its protected areas and its national parks spread out through its immense territory. Without access to a sanctuary, to a zoo, many Congolese will never have the opportunity to see the very animals of his or her own country.
I understand you hesitation in accepting this idea. For me too, it was not easy at first, because I lived over half my life at the foot of the Virunga volcanoes in Eastern Congo, and near the National Parks that surround them. There, I was in contact with one of the most beautiful fauna in the world, including mountain Gorillas ...
... It is clear that zoos are not really in fashion anymore ! but in a sanctuary, with an adapted environment, these orphans bonobos, who are basically condemned since they have been taken away from their mothers and who cannot be reinserted into an organized group in the wild, must - through an educational program - help save the last bonobos remaining in situ in their country ...".