Project Description

Date of birth: January 2003
Place of birth: In Captivity (Tenerife)
Arrival at MONA: December 17, 2004

Juanito’s story

He was born in a zoo in Tenerife and separated from his mother at just a few months old when his owner tried to sell him to an animal dealer in Madrid. When a collaborator of MONA in Tenerife heard of this, he alerted the Customs Authorities who within weeks confiscated Juanito.What followed were several months of legal wrangling as the owner of the zoo appealed the confiscation. During this time Juanito stayed temporarily at a local veterinary clinic. After six months of care at the clinic, Juanito was becoming difficult to handle (normal for a chimpanzee with increasing activity). It was clear that he needed to interact with others of his own species as soon as possible. Finally, a few weeks before Christmas, the court decided that MONA could take care of him and he was flown to Tenerife.


Within two months at MONA, Juanito was fully associated, with no problems, into the family group. He established a very strong bond with Waty, a young female chimp, who exercised the role of his mother.


Right now as a teenager, Juanito is noticeably more serious and less playful than before. This is a big change from a few years ago when he was the most unruly chimp at MONA. Although he was so young when he was rescued and never experienced the abuse that many of our animals had to endure in their past lives, he does display stress behavior every evening in the form of rocking while hugging a pile of straw. This began before he arrived here and is probably due to the early separation from his mother.

His social life

Since 2010, Juanito has been living in the group of males. When he was eight years old, he began his association to the male group because it was determined that he needed older friends.Within this group, he appears to have a very important role in the hierarchy and is a very popular member. However, he does not forget that he is the youngest and can get away with a little more than the others.


  • He loves all the enrichments that are prepared by the caregivers. Any activities that require manipulation are relished and he takes great care to achieve his goal. He is great at using sticks to solve problems, attain food, and every now and then, to acquire things he’s not supposed to have! He gets really excited over apples and tries to gather as many as possible in the morning forage.

Fun Facts

  • The day after his arrival here, he was introduced to Bongo, who at that time was 3, just two years older than Juanito. Bongo approached him with great interest, and Juanito responded by giving him a smack on the head! Brave from day one.
  • He recently almost fished a padlock from a tunnel door by very carefully pushing it from a hook with a stick when the caregivers weren’t paying attention.
  • Juanito is a kind chimp which he demonstrated when he tried to offer a cup of soup to a caregiver in the same way it is offered to him every evening.
  • When Juanito sees children who come to visit, he approaches the fence, appearing to be very interested, and seems to want to interact with them.
  • When Juanito is interested in something, he makes a very distinctive sound with his lips. He had already started this before he moved here and, so far, we’ve not seen this behavior in any other chimp.

Juanito’s group

We call his group The Bachelor Group, currently consisting of 5 males: two teenagers and three adults. The purpose of this Group is the integration of new male rescues with other males. Integrating males with males can be much less dangerous than integrating males with a mixed group containing females and, at times, youngsters.

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