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UWEC Unveils Monument In Honor of the legendary Chimp Zakayo

A statue in memory of Zakayo, a famous chimpanzee who succumbed to chronic gastroenteritis in 2018, was unveiled by Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Center (UWEC) formerly known as Entebbe zoo.

Col. (Rtd) Tom R. Butime, who remembered Zakayo ‘s impressive 55-year life as that of a primate conservation ambassador in Uganda, unveiled the sculpture on Tuesday 23 June 2020.

As Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Col. Butime also praised UWEC ‘s contribution to wildlife conservation education and urged the institution to lift species at risk of extinction in the wilderness.

The minister said preparations are underway to reopen the tourism centre after Covid-19 lockdown as the country returns to full operation.

“We look forward to Covid-19 coming to an end soon and starting to operate on a full scale. I’ve appointed a task force to work out how Ugandans can embrace domestic tourism now. As far as domestic tourism is concerned, we have been lacking, the task force working with other partners who will help promote local tourism, “Butime said.

For his part, Dr James Musinguzi, the UWEC Executive Director, hailed Zakayo as an icon at the wildlife conservation education centre.

“Zakayo had been a UWEC icon. He is a testament to the education and conservation programs of UWEC. He attracted many visitors to UWEC but also to Uganda in general. He was a revered father, wonderful dad who covered the young chimpanzees and resolved family disputes, “said Dr Musinguzi.

“He is also lent at UWEC for the close family connection between chimpanzees. Therefore it is fitting for us to appreciate the efforts and the commitment to the protection of Uganda, “he added.

Last year, on October 27, UWEC created the Zakayo Legacy Day as a way of honouring Uganda ‘s oldest documented chimpanzee who has been a 42-year beneficiary of off-site conservation (Ex situ conservation) at the model zoo.

Speaking to Africa Tembelea, Dr Musinguzi also rehearsed the words of the Tourism Ministers, noting that the centre will indeed reopen soon but under strict regulations pending the approval of the Standard Operating Procedures of the Ministry.

“We will carry out the reopening in phases by allowing a certain number of people to enter the [zoo] centre at a time, although some of the activities we were carrying out will not be initially opened like animal interactions,” Dr Musinguzi said.

He revealed that each visitor’s temperature will be taken to the centre using an infrared temperature gun, after which they will be required to sanitize according to the guidelines of the health ministry.

“Among other directions, we are putting hand washing facilities in the centre at every exhibit,” he said.