BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 25 Dec '18

Sold as a pet, Simon the chimp has spent a year with only a football for company

International wildlife charity Born Free is calling on the public to help them give Simon, a young, orphaned chimpanzee, the best Christmas gift there is: the gift of freedom.

Thought to be just three to four years old, Simon – a western chimpanzee – was born in a national park in southern Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. Sold as a pet, he has been living in a small cage with only a football for company for more than a year.

After a Born Free supporter reported his living conditions, the wildlife charity stepped in and now Simon’s owners have finally agreed to let Born Free intervene.

The charity now urgently needs funding from the public to help rescue the adorable chimpanzee and give him a lifetime home at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Kenya, which is a refuge for orphaned and abused chimps from West and Central Africa.

Saving Simon

Chris Draper, head of Animal Welfare & Captivity at Born Free, said, ‘Sadly, hundreds of thousands of wild animals worldwide are kept as ‘pets’ – and this number continues to grow. Wild animals are bought and sold in pet shops, trade fairs, markets, direct from breeders, or online. They may be captive-bred, sourced from zoos and circuses or, like Simon, caught from the wild.’

Born Free is working with the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance to rescue Simon and transport him to Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. The sanctuary is currently home to nearly 40 chimps who have been rescued from appalling conditions.

At Sweetwaters, chimps are given expert veterinary care and enjoy a life free from harm in vast, natural enclosures in which they can explore, climb and socialise – living the life a chimp should.

‘With the public’s help we can fund Simon’s rescue, relocation and initial care at Sweetwaters’, said Chris. ‘Any additional funds we raise will be used to help fund the rescue of other chimps in Guinea-Bissau.’