Estimated YOB: 1979
In 1979, Mabéké was orphaned by the bush meat trade, destined to the illegal live pet trade and purchased by an expatriate family in the city of Port-Gentil. Within a year, he was transferred to the Centre International de Recherches Médicales de Franceville (CIRMF) where he lived for 20 years. In 2001, he was relocated to the island of Evengue-Ezango in Gabon’s Ogouée-Maritime province just outside of Loango national park. He now lives in a naturally-forested enclosure with Owendja and Essogoué, and represents an ambassador for the conservation of great-apes.
Owendja (means light of day in the local dialect)
Estimated DOB: November 2002
Origin: Mpivié river (Fernan-Vaz lagoon)
Owendja was confiscated by local wildlife authorities in 2003 and subsequently transferred to the Projet Gorille Fernan-Vaz Sanctuary. Like all other orphans at the PGFV, he has lost his family, his natural home and his freedom. However, unlike many other great-ape orphans who do not survive, he has now regained some of his dignity within the Sanctuary with his gorilla companions where he is taken care of by his human caregivers. He loves running around with Essogoué in mud puddles, climbing in trees and splurging on Aframomoum fruit.
Owendja unfortunately passed away abruptly in July 2013 of peritonitis and septicemia secondary to the rupture of an intra-abdominal abscess. He is greatly missed by the gorillas and PGFV staff alike.
Estimated DOB: May 2004
Origin: Essogoué village (Fernan-Vaz lagoon)
In September 2004, at the age of around 4 months, Essogoué was handed-over to the project by two boys from a local village called “Essogoué”. He was then socially integrated with Owendja prior to joining Mabéké in the naturally-forested enclosure. Despite his young age, Essogoué will never be reintroduced since he has lost some critical survival skills and has gained dependence on us, humans. Moreover, he has been influenced by Mabéké, a gorilla whose behaviour reflects a lifetime of captivity (see above). Essogoué loves Aframomoum fruit and teasing Mabéké.