Protecting Primates

With 18 sanctuaries across 12 African countries, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) provides homes for chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and other endangered primates. By taking in animals that have been orphaned in the wild or confiscated from poachers, these sanctuaries provide life-saving care to thousands of these amazing animals.

PASA sanctuaries will soon be able to offer an added layer of care, thanks to the efforts of Lincoln Park Zoo Assistant Lead Keeper Jill Moyse. Moyse was recently awarded a $700 conservation grant from the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK). The funds will go toward supplying each of the sanctuaries with specialized parasite-testing kits—essential tools for ensuring healthy populations.

“We went to PASA and asked them what the best thing would be to have,” says Moyse. “They all wanted these kits to be able to test their animals, which is important—animals with parasites can get really sick.”

The kits aren’t Moyse’s first contribution to the sanctuaries. For several years she and Veterinary Technician Katrina Scott have collected surplus veterinary supplies from zoos throughout the country to send PASA’s way. Bundled with outgoing volunteers, the syringes, bandages, test-tube racks, surgical implements and other items help the cash-strapped sanctuaries care their residents. Each shipment that arrives at the financially limited charities “is like Christmas,” the keeper reports.

Moyse was able to visit three sanctuaries in person during a 2007 trip to a PASA veterinary workshop in Cameroon. While distributing supplies for an ape blood-typing project she manages—supplies funded by another AAZK grant—she was able to spend two days working as a keeper at a sanctuary in Limbe. “It was a life-changing experience,” she says.

The parasite kits enabled by the latest grant will change lives as well, especially since they can re-used for repeated testing. “This grant was really, really exciting,” says Moyse. “It’s going toward every sanctuary in Africa, which is really fulfilling.”