Chimfunshi was founded in 1983 when a game ranger brought a badly wounded infant chimpanzee to the cattle ranch of David and Sheila Siddle. The Siddles nursed that chimp – named Pal – back to thereby establish a tradition of care and respect that forms the legacy of the sanctuary.
Founding of the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage by Sheila & David Siddle.
First open wild-area enclosure of size 3Ha (c.7 acres) constructed at old Orphanage area.
Neighbouring land purchased for the establishment of a new Chimpanzee Sanctuary Project area.
Construction and establishment of Staff & Workers’ housing at new Visitor & Education Centre. Such housing has been developed further over the years and now includes 5 housing areas housing some 70 workers and their families.
Construction & equipping of Visitor & Education Centre at new Chimpanzee Sanctuary Project area, including accommodation for up to 80 visitors, volunteers and researchers. This has provided a venue for environmental & conservation education & awareness programmes, opportunities and accommodation for local and international visitors, volunteers, researchers, schools and universities.
Completion of the first of four open, wild-area enclosures at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Project area. Transfer of chimpanzees from old orphanage area to this new facility.
Completion of construction & equipping of four open, wild-area enclosures at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Project area – two enclosures of size 200 Ha (c.500 acres) and two of size 100Ha (c.250 acres).
Chimpanzee Sanctuary Project area handed over to management of newly formed Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust
Neighbouring land purchased to provide farm land for home-grown food for chimps and to increase the potential for future conservancy area.
New staff housing project completed – 10 houses for 10 families.
Community Health Post construction completed.
Expansion of Chimfunshi Twampani Community School completed by the addition of new classroom, admin & exam centre and ablutions facilities – to provide continuity to secondary level education in addition to the existing primary school operation.
Introduction of a donor-supported School Meals Programme to ensure basic nutrition is provided to all pupils.
Partnership and cooperation programme to enable and assist the operations of the Upper Kafue Conservation Project, which has started anti-poaching and conservation awareness and education activities in local communities.
How it all began: The beginning of Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust
In the 1980s David and Sheila Siddle were running a cattle farm on the banks of the Kafue River in the remote north of Zambia – in north-west corner of the Copperbelt Province. One day in 1983, a game ranger brought a badly hurt baby chimpanzee to them that he had saved from poachers.
Spontaneously, the Siddles agreed to take the little ape into their care. They brought him back to life – against all the odds, the baby chimp survived despite its severe external and internal wounds and it stayed with the Siddles from then on.
The rumour spread fast that this farming couple in northern Zambia, close at the Congo border, had succeeded in saving a wounded chimpanzee baby and that they would be willing to take in others in need. More and more chimpanzees began to find their way to north Zambia. The animals were taken from poachers or from illegal traders in street markets; they were discovered at dilapidated circuses or zoos; or they were confiscated from smugglers at borders.
They came from all over the World and all were in desperate need of intensive care. Thus the number of chimpanzees rose steadily.
In 1995, the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust was founded in order to give the orphanage and sanctuary a long term basis and to generate sponsorship and direct financial support.