The Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) is set to vaccinate all chimpanzees and other animals at the Centre against Covid-19.
This was revealed by the UWEC Executive Director, Mr James Musinguzi, on Wednesday during the Zakayo’s Day Celebrations held every October 27.
“As UWEC, we are working together with Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Dr Gladys Kamela of Conservation through public health and Zoetis Company to get a vaccine called zoetis, to be able to vaccinate all our chimps and other animals. But of course we shall have to first do some trials with the monkeys to observe how they react,” he said.
In July, Ngamba Island chimpanzees were subjected to Covid-19 tests and all results returned negative.
Mr Musinguzi also revealed that the Centre would also conduct an outreach Covid-19 vaccination drive for its visitors.
“Since we receive quite a number of people over the weekend, we given these two days Saturday and Sunday because it has some logistic arrangement that we have to make with Entebbe Regional Referral hospital, for our clients to be able to come and benefit from the vaccination,” he said.
Mr Musinguzi said UWEC has 21 chimpanzees while Ngamba Sanctuary has 52, out of the total 5000 chimps in the country.
“The reason why we celebrated Zakayo legacy is to tell Ugandans the importance of conservation because these wild animals contribute a lot towards Uganda’s tourism sector and if we don’t conserve wild animals, our tourism sector gets affected. Zakayo played a big role in the tourism sector therefore I call upon all Ugandans to work together so that we conserve our environment,” he said.
Zakayo died at the age of 54 after he succumbed to Chronic Gastroenteritis.
Zakayo was found abandoned on June 10, 1964 in Semiliki National Park in Bundibugyo District and was raised by a white man who then surrendered him to UWEC on June 19, 1976 as he became aggressive and difficult to manage.
He used to stay in a cage and visitors would tease him, offer him cigarettes and alcohol, which would get him very excited.
Although Zakayo had by 2012 lost his alpha male position, he still commanded a lot of respect from the group, instilling order and peace when there were group fights and made sure that everyone entered the enclosure or exited it before he did, which defined his caring character.