Date of birth: Approx 1980
Place of birth: Unknown
Arrival at MONA: June 13, 2011

Tom’s story

He was purchased in the 90’s, along with a female, by his former owner. He acquired them legally through an intermediary. The intermediary bought them from a circus when they were about 10 years old because they were no longer needed. We know nothing of his life in the circus, only that the correct papers existed. (Spanish laws still allow private collectors, circuses and trainers that rent to television programs to keep extremely social and intelligent animals in danger of extinction such as chimpanzees.)


Once acquired by his past owner, he lived for 20 years in a cage built for him on the grounds of his house in a village near Girona.
Tom did not live alone, but alongside two females in an adjoining cage, Coco and Bea. It wasn’t possible for them to be together always because Tom would attack them out of frustration and boredom. He was the first of the three to arrive at MONA.
Tom’s former owner had legal permission to keep two of the three chimpanzees. After meeting repeatedly with wildlife experts at FAADA (Foundation of Assistance and Action in the Defence of Animals) and MONA, he agreed to hand them over and promised to help us financially for their lifetime of care.


Tom is a very nervous chimpanzee who gets especially excited with food. After a few weeks of settling into his new environment, we began his associations into the old male group, but he was rejected by Marco and Bongo. Since 2013 he has become part of the Bilinga group and although he has ventured into the outside facilities alone, he still refuses to go at the same time as the other members of the family and is content to view them from the open tunnel.

His social life

Tom belongs to the Bilinga group but is still in the process of adaptation. Although he doesn’t like to get things wrong with anyone and he’s not afraid of others, he has not been intimate with anyone enough to have close ties.


  • He loves lettuce, fruit, and the rice balls given as the carbohydrate of the dinner, but he is not so keen on potatoes and he won’t eat meat.
  • He loves creating a big straw nest at bedtime and especially likes to cover himself completely with blankets.

Fun Facts

  • When Tom is nervous, he stands up, grabs onto the bars and vigorously swings from side to side.
  • When Tom can break something, he’ll break it. With his teeth he has destroyed many enrichments and even hard rubber toys (Kongs) that the other chimpanzees have been using for years.
  • When Tom first went out to the outdoor enclosure, he was scared and because of this, he became the only chimp in the history of MONA to touch the electric wire fence more than once.

Tom’s group

He is part of the group we call the Bilinga*.

Bilinga: Nauclea diderrichii is a native tree of Central and part of West Africa. Its natural habitat is the humid forests of subtropical or tropical lowlands and it is threatened by uncontrolled logging by its wood known as BILINGA. This tree produces one of the chimps’ favorite fruits. Even studies have been made of the vocalizations they make when they find a tree full of them!

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