Toto was born in West Africa to wild chimpanzee parents. In order to capture him the hunters would have killed all the adults in his group so not only one chimpanzee was lost to the wild. He was brought to the UK to be sold into captivity in Birmingham sometime in 1966 which meant he celebrated his fiftieth birthday in 2016.
In January 1967 he was brought to Drayton Manor near Tamworth to live with Topsy who was one year older than Toto. Topsy and Toto lived at Drayton Manor together for nearly forty years until Topsy died in 2005. They were the ‘characters’ of the zoo and seemed to really enjoy one another’s company. It must have been a real wrench for Toto when Topsy died.
During his time at Drayton Manor, Toto was looked after by a number of Keepers all of whom have stories to tell about his life there and his mischievous behaviour. He was very fond of throwing missiles at people including poo. Apparently he threw some at one staff member who had to take her false teeth out to wash them. This caused great hilarity. When we visited several times during 2016 in order to meet Toto he kept this well-hidden and all we saw was him throwing his football and some bananas and corn cobs! He can hurl that football a huge distance so the others will have some competition there!
He was an enormously popular character at the zoo and visitors in the local area all know Toto! On the day we announced that Toto is now here at the Sanctuary, our Facebook page is full of comments about him and makes very interesting reading!
Many people and visitors were worried about Toto being on his own, but to move an elderly animal which involves anaesthesia, a journey, new surroundings and new keepers is a big decision to make. Drayton Manor made this decision for welfare reasons for Toto to have a peaceful retirement and the company again of his own species. There were many tears the day that Toto left Drayton Manor on October 31st 2016 and a really big send off. After health checks and heart monitoring, Toto was loaded into the Sanctuary ambulance, brought round from the anaesthesia and thus began one of the shortest rescue trips since Penscynor!!
They arrived at the Sanctuary in daylight and a nice sunny afternoon. Toto immediately made his presence known to the other chimps with many hoots and other noises. They all replied and a very noisy half hour followed!
A huge brand new day room with two big windows, hammocks and platforms, piles of wood wool and a central heating makes a winter more welcoming!
Toto has certainly not shown any sign of upset at leaving his home of fifty years and we all hope that the ‘Tamworth Legend’s retirement here will be a long and happy one. He has already made an impression on all his visitors especially the children. He particularly enjoys being close to everyone in the big glass windows – a new experience for him. He entertains everyone and missed them all during the Covid lockdowns.
With the sad passing of dear Tubman, in January 2019, and now the sad loss of Jason in 2020, Toto was alone. However, on October 13th 2020, we successfully introduced him to Kaspar whose companion Uschi, like Jason, succumbed to inoperable lymphoma. Two lonely chimps have made friends
The perfect gift for animal lovers, why not adopt Toto
Animal adoption is a great way to support Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary, lasts all year and makes for a lovely treat or gift. Treat yourself or buy as a gift for the animal lover in your life.