Sadness as "loving and caring" chimpanzee rescued by former wildlife park dies

PUBLISHED: 08:53 06 February 2019 | UPDATED: 09:04 06 February 2019

Former resident of Mole Hall Wildlife Park in Saffron Walden, Tubman the chimpanzee. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Former resident of Mole Hall Wildlife Park in Saffron Walden, Tubman the chimpanzee. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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A famous chimpanzee who was rescued by the owners of a wildlife park near Saffron Walden has died.

Tubman during his time at Mole Hall Wildlife Park. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDTubman during his time at Mole Hall Wildlife Park. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Tubman, who originated from Liberia, was rescued by the owners of Mole Hall Wildlife Park, Widdington, in 1969 and, when the site closed in 2008, he was moved to Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary where he lived until the age of 52.

Tubman’s journey to Essex dates back to January 1967 when he was taken to the Netherlands destined for the laboratory but, while there, he came to the attention of the Johnstone family, owners of Mole Hall Wildlife Park.

Tubman was brought back to the park in 1969 and stayed until January 1984, when he was moved to a new location to join another chimpanzee called Joey.

Tubman the chimpanzee was rescued by Mole Hall Wildlife Park in SaffronWalden. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDTubman the chimpanzee was rescued by Mole Hall Wildlife Park in SaffronWalden. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Both chimps returned to Mole Hall in 1986 where they stayed for 23 years. In 2009, the pair moved to Wales.

Jan Garen, from Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary, said Tubman was a “wonderful ambassador for his species”.

She said: “We are so honoured to have had the privilege of loving and caring for this unique chimpanzee in his twilight years. Knowing he brought so much joy and happiness to so many is the greatest comfort to us all.

Tubman the chimpanzee was rescued by Mole Hall Wildlife Park in SaffronWalden. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDTubman the chimpanzee was rescued by Mole Hall Wildlife Park in SaffronWalden. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

“His resilience and zest for life was a joy to share. We have had 10 years of love and laughter with this boy and there was nothing finer than watching on the CCTV as Tubby entertained his many fans.

“He just made his bed one afternoon, ate his dried fruit and went to sleep. It was a lovely way for him to go with no suffering. We are astonished at the number of people getting in touch to tell us about their memories of him.

“We are setting up Tubman’s memorial rescue fund to help rescue others like him.”

Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary publishes photographs of Tubman every Tuesday - they will continue the tradition as a tribute to him.

Daniel Brett, of Stansted, whose stepfather used to work at Mole Hall Wildlife Park, said: “When I was a child, he would love to play peek-a-boo from behind objects in his cage and would get very excited and laugh. He also enjoyed being sung to and had a fondness of ice cream and wagon wheels, which I gather never went away when he moved to Wales.

“His sense of humour was sometimes a little scatological and certain visitors could be treated with a well-directed lob of mess, with their reactions making Tubman pant with laughter.”

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