4 min read

Chimp Once Forced To Live In A Backpack Meets Her New Best Friends

A group of teachers was traveling through the remote villages of Cameroon when two young boys approached them with something to sell - actually, someone.

They unzipped a backpack. Looking up from the darkness was a baby chimp with swollen eyes.

This was the moment her life changed.

Paula was being kept in a backpack by people who were trying to sell her. | Ape Action Africa

The teachers negotiated with the boys and brought the chimp, now named Paula, to Ape Action Africa's Mefou Primate Sanctuary in May.

Paula, on the drive to the sanctuary | Ape Action Africa

Severely malnourished, Paula slowly gained strength by eating healthy foods like papaya.

Little did she know that she was about to form two of the most important relationships of her life.

Paula shows her curiosity about the sanctuary's deputy director, Larry Taylor. | Ian Bickerstaff/Ape Action Africa

Earlier this month, Paula met Little Larry and Daphne.

Paula eating papaya to gain strength | Ian Bickerstaff/Ape Action Africa

Daphne and Little Larry understood Paula's hardships. Daphne was rescued in 2014 when authorities confiscated ape body parts from traffickers - Daphne was the tiny, terrified baby among the gruesome loot.

Daphne, when she was first rescued from wildlife traffickers in 2014 | LAGA

She was just four months old.

Daphne was just four months old when she was rescued. Now she acts as a big sister to Paula and Little Larry. | Ape Action Africa

Little Larry was rejected by his mom in April, when he was just a couple weeks old, so he needed to be bottle-fed by sanctuary staff. Now that he's a little older, he depends on his bigger, adopted sisters for guidance.

Little Larry was rejected by his mom. | Ape Action Africa

Their suffering is behind them now. Together, the trio is forming a family, learning from one another how to be chimps again.

Paula and Daphne climb trees together. | Amy Hanes/Ape Action Africa

"Since being introduced to Daphne and Little Larry, our newest addition Paula has become more confident with her new friends," Ape Action Africa wrote. "Daphne - a daredevil climber - has taken Paula under her wing and as a result, little Paula is climbing to new heights. She follows closely behind Daphne, testing vines, making calculated jumps, and recovering easily when she falls."

Paula (left) hands a leaf to her friend Daphne as they explore the forest. | Amy Hanes/Ape Action Africa

Little Larry is a little less adventurous than the ladies when it comes to climbing. Paula sits with Little Larry when he explores the forest floor.

Paula (left) and Little Larry share fruit. | Amy Hanes/Ape Action Africa

And Daphne, the eldest, acts as any older sibling would. "Daphne has keen social insight - quickly assessing skirmishes between the others," Ape Action Africa wrote. "At this young age, it is common for chimps to feel jealous of each other, but they also bond well and we are confident that the trio will soon be a tight-knit family."

Amy Hanes/Ape Action Africa

From what it looks like, the little crew is already well on their way.

Click here to learn how you can help Ape Action Africa, which cares for over 350 primates.

Watch Paula meeting Little Larry and Daphne for the first time below: