We’ve all secretly dreamt of what it might be like to co-pilot a plane; soaring above the skies with the controls at our fingertips.
Well it seems baby chimpanzees harbour a similar curiosity for airborne adventures.
New footage shows the touching moment an orphaned baby chimp reaches out to investigate the control panel of his rescue flight.
Little Musso was rescued from poachers in the Congo by heroic pilot Anthony Caere. The pair bonded as Anthony flew the young ape to the safety of orphaned primate sanctuary, Lwiro Primates.
— Lwiro Primates (@lwiroprimates) March 1, 2018
Musso sits on Anthony’s lap during the journey – much like a human baby – and is shown to be highly inquisitive; looking out of the window with curiosity and using his tiny paws to explore his new surroundings.
At one point, it appears he’s expertly adjusting the throttle with his fingers, with a keen focus in his beautiful brown eyes.
Clearly this little guy is a remarkably fast learner.
In turn, Anthony takes good care of the motherless infant; holding him protectively, kissing his head and even lovingly grooming his fur.
Brave Musso appears completely nonplussed by his unusual situation and clearly has a head for heights.
Feeling completely at ease with his new best friend, Musso drifts into a peaceful slumber as they float together among the clouds.
Of course, sleeping on the job is not the safest means of co-piloting a plane, but we can forgive this young scamp due to his extreme levels of cuteness.
Posting about his new co-pilot pal on Facebook, Anthony – ie my absolute favourite person of the day – wrote:
Great teamwork of @lwirocrpl and Virunga National Park to save this baby out of the hands of poachers.
We flew baby Mussa to his new home at Lwiro Primates. This looks cute but is actually a sad story.
He should be with his mum.. But happy we could give him a new good home! Thanks to the whole team! This is conservation!
Great teamwork of @lwirocrpl and Virunga National Park to save this baby out of the hands of poachers. We flew baby Mussa to his new home at Lwiro Primates. This looks cute but is actually a sad story. He should be with his mum.. But happy we could give him a new good home! Thanks to the whole team! This is conservation! #virunga #virunganationalpark #savevirunga #stoppoaching #babychimp #chimp #chimpansee #lwiroprimates #conservation #flying #wildlifewarriors #congo #drc #rdc #thedodo #livetotellthestory @i7saso
Posted by Anthony Caere on Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Lwiro Primates spoke with UNILAD about Mussa’s difficult start in life, explaining:
Mussa was living in North Kivu, in a village called Beni. We received the alert from a picture that someone was sharing through Whatsapp.
Mussa was living with an expat who also had other protected Reptiles in his house, we still don’t know (research is ongoing) if he kept him as a “pet” or he was looking for a buyer.
There is an important illegal traffic of chimpanzees towards China and Middle Est, in destination baby chimps can cost thousands of dollars.
What is happening here is that the “small poachers” kill the adults for bushmeat and if they found a baby they try to sell it, the poachers here can win between 20-50$ per baby chimp.
So Mussa’s family was certainly killed, maybe just the mum, but probably they killed several members of the family. Is not possible to take a baby from the arms of her/his mum without killing her, because as in humans, mothers will do anything possible to protect their offspring.
Every rescue is an effort from a lot of people from different organisations who work together to save lives. It is a beautiful moment to see the result of everybody's implication, in this case we save the life of Mussa. You can also be part of this team effort! You can contribute to Mussa's rehabilitation by donating in our website: www.lwiroprimates.org or directly in the "donate" button on Facebook. Thanks so much! You are a very important part of our team ❤️
Posted by Lwiro Primates on Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Fortunately, Mussa seems to be settling in well at his new home, with Lwiro Primates revealing:
He is around 3 years old and he will spend the quarantine period with other 4 babies, also orphaned of poaching, before he can join one of our chimp groups. We take care now of 80 chimps and 100 monkeys of different species.
Our aim is to reintroduce this primates into the wild, but due the instability of the country this moment seems still a bit far. In between we do our best to the care of this victims of human greed.
Mussa is in pretty good health, he has some intestinal parasites which we are already treating. He is laughing and playing which is a very good sign for orphaned chimps. And he LOVES tomatoes!!!
Animal lovers have understandably taken adorable, tomato loving Mussa – and of course Anthony – to their hearts.
One person commented:
Oh my heart, this is so dear. I cannot remember the pilots name, he is such a wonderful, caring MAN, as is every person who helped in the rescue. Beautiful souls. xx Dare I say both are cuties.
Oh what a sweetheart and so trusting. Very sad he is not with his mother and family but relieved he is safe and in good hands.
Good people out there, thank you
Now, Mussa has a brand new start in life and a chance to overcome the horrors of his past – all thanks to his new friend Anthony.
If only all humans could be this gentle and caring.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.