Mike was found in a box going round and round the luggage carousel at the Nairobi airport. Louise was found in a Moscow airport, dehydrated, hogtied, drugged with booze and crammed into the false bottom of a cage of rare parrots. E.T. got her name because she was missing three fingers, presumably blown off as poachers shot her mother out of a tree as E.T. clung to her chest.
Cute as they are, when chimpanzees are rescued from smugglers, they become an instant burden for wildlife officers. Few zoos leap to take an animal that may need intensive medical care and then has a 60-year life span.Often the survivors end up living here at this cattle ranch turned chimpanzee orphanage. It's not the same as living in the wild, but they would be dead in days if they tried. Jungle skills are something that Dave and Sheila Siddle teach their 67 chimps - how to poke tasty termites out of a log, which fruits are avocados and mangoes and which are poison, that sort of thing.
They wish they could return their charges to the wild. But that won't be possible for at least two chimpanzee generations and until Chimfunshi owns enough wilderness for chimps to teach chimps. The quandary is that the orphans the Siddles have saved love humans too much.
"They'd run straight to a poacher, looking for a hug," Siddle said.
Her first chimpanzee, Pal, arrived in 1983, bought by her son-in-law from Zairian smugglers in a local market. He was malnourished and suffering from diarrhea, his teeth smashed and lips torn open. She nursed him for four months - and word got around among Zambian game rangers that there was now someplace to take the living contraband they seized.
Since then, chimps have taken over the Siddles' lives. At first, as amateurs, they withstood a bit of sneering from academics. But now even virtual saints of the apes like Jane Goodall have visited and dropped off chimps.
The Siddles' dream is to fence 13,000 acres the government has granted them nearby, stock it with game and build an education center and a tourist lodge for income. They're about $500,000 short, but they've created a trust to take over when they're gone.
"We're getting on in years," said Sheila Siddle, who is 66 and her husband 70. "And we were worried what would happen if we slipped on a banana skin tomorrow."