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  Nigerian boy adopted, nursed by chimps

April 15 2002 at 06:16AM

Kano, Nigeria - A disabled Nigerian boy believed to have been adopted and raised by chimpanzees for 18 months is in care in a specialist children's home in Kano.

Named Bello by nursing staff at the Tudun Maliki Torrey home in Kano, he was brought to them six years ago by hunters after being found with a chimpanzee family in the Falgore forest, 150
kilometres south of here, said staff.

Believed to have been aged around two years when he was taken in, Bello is probably the son of nomadic ethnic Fulani people who travel through the region, said Abba Isa Muhammad, the home's child welfare officer.

Mentally and physically disabled, with a misshapen forehead, sloping right shoulder and protruding chest, he was probably abandoned by his parents because of his disabilities, said Isa Muhammad.
He was apparently adopted by a family of chimpanzees

Such abandonments of disabled children are common among the nomadic Fulani, a pastoralist people who travel great distances across the west African Sahelregion, and in most instances the children die, said specialists.

But in Bello's case, he was apparently adopted by a family of chimpanzees, said Isa Muhammad.

"We do not know exactly how long he would have been with the chimps. Based on the traits he exhibits, we estimate that he would have been adopted when he was no more than six months old and nursed by a nursing chimp," said the welfare officer.

When he was first brought in, Bello, who is about the size and weight of a four-year-old, walked in a chimpanzee-like fashion, moving on his hind legs but dragging his arms on the ground, said the home's matron, A'isha Ibrahim, cuddling the boy.

Still today he leaps, chimpanzee-like, and claps his hands over his head repeatedly, cupping his hands, as monkeys do, and does not speak but makes chimpanzee-like noises.

"When Bello was brought here in 1996, he used to walk like a monkey, with his feet and hands on the ground. He would jump and grunt or squeak like a chimpanzee," said Ibrahim.

"At first he was very restless. He would leap about at night from bed to bed in the dormitory where we put him with the other children.

"He would disturb the other children and smash and throw things. Now he is much calmer," she said, adding that all the staff are fond of the boy.

Isa Muhammad, the home's welfare officer, said staff had initially hoped that someone might come forward to claim the boy, but realised now that that was not going to happen.

"We are trying to see what we can do for him. We do not know how many years he will have to be here," he said. - Sapa-AFP

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