Bryan (pictured left with Sally) first came to my attention when I was working as an English language content writer for a Mexican tour operator. Within a week, he was adopted, nominally on behalf of the company, but in my name.
Unless they have been born to a mother already in captivity, then no chimpanzee baby should be outside Africa. All of those cute, oh-so-sedate photographer's props on resort beaches will be in trauma.
Bryan's story is typical. He was snatched by hunters from his mother's arms. She will almost certainly have been killed in the process and either left to rot or eaten as bush-meat.
She would not have been alone in that. All chimpanzees live in troops made up of their extended families. Others would have come to help her. Many would have ended up dead, while their babies were stuffed into suffocating boxes and taken away.
Two-thirds of infant chimps die before they even leave the jungle. Shock is only the start of it. They need their mother's milk.
But good prices can be fetched for them in Western countries especially. All over Europe and the Americas, the ignorant look for exotic pets; laboratories want test subjects to experiment upon; photographers and circuses need wild animals for commercial profit.
The hunters are also up against the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Being caught is to be prosecuted, so the terrified chimpanzees are smuggled across borders in cramped wooden cages. Most of them don't make it.
Bryan did. He was smuggled into Mexico via Cuba and fell into the hands of a beach photographer. The man already had an adult female chimpanzee called Coco. She was worked in the punishing heat, posing for pictures with tourists. Countless images emerged of her smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, being humanized with hats and clothes.
At around 18 months old, Bryan was held down and his baby teeth were smashed in his mouth. It wasn't surgically done. Fragments were later found embedded in his gums. But it kept him from biting the tourists. Tranquilizers and sedatives did the rest.
Fortunately for this little chimp, his plight quickly became reported to the Mexican authorities. He was confiscated and housed in a Cancun EcoPark. From there, he was brought to Monkey World.
Despite the noise from his new play area being constructed, Bryan appears so well now. He has Sally and the rest of the nursery group to look after him. It's been quite a journey, but he's safe and relatively happy. And growing up so fast!