The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre(UWEC) has unveiled plans to erect a statue and construct a museum in honor of the country’s oldest chimpanzee, Zakayo at their premises.
Zakayo, the country’s oldest chimpanzee died at the age of 54 in 2018 after succumbing to chronic gastroenteritis.
Speaking at the first-ever Zakayo legacy day on Friday, UWEC, Executive Director, James Musinguzi said the museum will be a token of appreciation for the role played by the chimpanzee in increasing the number of tourists in the country.
“Zakayo was an icon at UWEC and a great ambassador to wild animals out there in the field. He brought in a lot of tourists to UWEC but also Uganda at large. It is, therefore, befitting for us to recognize the efforts and contribution to Uganda’s conservation,”Musinguzi said.
The UWEC boss said the tourist numbers have grown by 10% partly because of Zakayo, adding that is only prudent to put up a museum in his honor.
He noted that Zakayo’s skeleton was preserved and that it would be on display alongside other items in the museum.
“We shall have conservation education messages about Zakayo, chimpanzees and other wildlife. One can come to do research about conservation and legacy of Zakayo. The museum will have a lot of knowledge about chimpanzees at large,”Musinguzi said.
According to the UWEC Executive Director, the Zakayo statue will be erected at the Entebbe children’s park.
At the function, the Zakayo legacy day was inaugurated and will be celebrated annually on October 27, the birthdate for the deceased chimpanzee.
Zakayo was in 1964 was rescued from Semliki National park in Bundibugyo and was estimated to be one year old.
The chimp was raised by a white man who 13 years later handed it over to UWEC in 1976 because it had turned out difficult to manage.
Zakayo lived at UWEC until 2018 when he met his death aged 54 years.