Disease outbreak threatens Sweetwaters chimpanzees

In late February, Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary was hit by the worst disease outbreak we’ve ever experienced.

Within just one week, almost every one of our 39 rescued and orphaned chimpanzees became sick with an acute respiratory infection. 98% of our chimpanzees were infected. We mobilized our veterinary team fast, but there was nothing they could do for Ajabu and her sister, Angela as they both died suddenly from the acute bacterial pneumonia on the 24th and 25th Feb 2019 respectively, leaving both their social chimpanzee group and their keepers heartbroken.

Even more devastating is that Ajabu had a one-year old baby – Jobo – who had to be placed in intensive care for the same infection. Ajabu and Angela's mother, Mwanzo, has been deeply affected by their death and finds solace in spending time with her own mother, Sultana.

All the other chimpanzees have undergone intense veterinary care and are on the road to recovery. The source of the bacterial infection remains unknown but we have put preventive measures in place to try and make sure this never happens again.

We’re grateful to everyone who donated money for medical supplies during this emergency. We are happy to report that Jobo, while still under constant care, is doing much better and is getting stronger every day.


After losing his mother Ajabu, Jobo had to be placed under intensive care. Here he is with Dr. Stephen Ngulu, our Veterinarian in charge at Ol Pejeta. Jobo has shown a lot of progress since his treatment, but we have yet been unable to return him to the rest of the troop.