Meet the team
In memory, Joseph B. Thomas
Joseph Thomas, who served as our Deputy Director of Operations and Chimpanzee Welfare, passed away in January 2021. Joseph had an incredible impact on the chimpanzees’ lives and the sanctuary. He cared for the chimpanzees for more than 40 years and risked his own life to stay and continue caring for the chimpanzees during two civil wars and Libera’s Ebola crisis. You can read more about Joseph and his legacy here.
Director & Senior Veterinarian
Dr. Richard Ssuna
Dr. Ssuna has been working in the field of animal welfare since 1999, when he began working for the Uganda Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (USPCA). Since then, he has worked for the Jane Goodall Institute and Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust on Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary and for the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre. Additionally, he was hired by the RSPCA International to establish the Lilongwe Society and Protection of Animals (LSPCA), and created the ALL CREATURES Animal Welfare Trust. He has received multiple awards related to animal welfare including the William Wilberforce Award in 2012, the Africa Animal Advocate Award by Humane Society International (HSI) in 2014, a Special Recognition for Outstanding Leadership for Ngamba Island in 2018, and is the current World Animal Day Ambassador for Malawi. Dr. Ssuna has presently taken on the role of Technical Advisor for Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia. His primary responsibilities are to lead the project’s development and oversee veterinary care for all of the chimpanzees on the islands.
Junius V. Cooper
Junius began working with the chimpanzees as a security guard in 1996 when they were still living in the laboratory. He was was promoted to Animal Care in 2000 and was responsible for coordinating chimpanzee introductions and their movement from the laboratory to their new, permanent homes on the Marshall Islands between 2005 and 2006. Junius, now in the role of Manager of Animal Care, maintains a special bond with Mallak on Island 5, and is grateful to Humane Society International for stepping in to provide the chimpanzees with lifetime care.
Frederick joined the Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge team in April of 2018. Previously, he started a business of trading gasoline in Charlesville so that boat and vehicle owners who could not access gas stations could acquire fuel more easily. He was also involved in controlling the disease of malaria in the county Margibi. Despite being on the team for a relatively short amount of time, his passion and care for the chimpanzees’ welfare is apparent. He currently works as an animal caregiver and is dedicated to caring for the chimpanzees. He considers Rose on Island 2 to be special “because of her gentleness and calmness in all situations.”
Ben Johnson started working as a maintenance aide in 1988 when the chimpanzees were still living in the laboratory. His skills of working with animals allowed him to be promoted to Medical Technician Assistant (MTA), a position he held until January 1992 when a civil war in Liberia broke out. He returned to the lab in 2000 and became one of the core staff dedicated to caring for the chimpanzees, including after they were moved to the Marshall Islands for retirement. As a Senior Caregiver, he provides a great example to the junior staff and readily shares his experience with them. He is particularly fond of Juno on Island 1 with whom he has had a great relationship for years.
Anthony started his work on the team in 1991 as a member of the kitchen staff, playing the important role of food preparation for the chimpanzees. He is now a dedicated Senior Animal Caregiver and is is grateful for the opportunity to care for the animals. He is very fond of Lolo, the “Bossman”, who lives on Island 5.
Morris was born in Yekepa, in western Liberia. After skipping two grades during primary school at St. Joseph Catholic School, he received an academic scholarship to continue his education at Bishop Carroll High School, where he graduated in 2011. In 2014, Morris received a nurse assistant certificate from the Florence Nightingale Institute of Health Sciences as well as a certificate in pharmaceutical dispensing from Liberia Pharmaceutical Dispensing School. In 2020, he graduated from the University of Liberia with a bachelor’s degree in biology and an emphasis in chemistry. Morris worked as a pharmacy technician for several years before starting a job with the Humane Society International-Liberia team providing food and medications to companion animals in need during the pandemic. In 2022, Morris joined the Second Chance team as a caregiver. In addition to his caregiving duties, he dispenses medications to the chimpanzees, such as birth control and pain relief for injuries, infections, or conditions like arthritis. He is especially fond of Lolo because he does not shy away from taking medication when he needs it! Morris and his wife Janet live in Kpellah Town with their three daughters, Khadihar, Hajar, and Aisha.
Winston was born in Totota, Lower Bong County, Liberia. During the Liberian civil war in 1993, he fled to Ivory Coast with his parents. Despite the challenges Winston and his family faced, he was able to continue with his education while living in Ivory Coast and ultimately obtained his high school diploma and West African Examinations Council (WAEC) Certificate shortly after returning to Liberia in 1995. He then went on to receive a diploma in auto mechanics from the Booker Washington Institute Accelerated Vocational Training Program. After completing school, Winston faced a lack of opportunities despite his education and experience. He was thrilled to become a junior caregiver at Second Chance in March 2020 and has shown great skill and passion in his work. He has a soft spot for Ta of Island 3 - he loves the expression of joy on Ta’s face at mealtime and the way he cleverly eats his food quickly so he can have another helping!
Nathaniel B. Washington
Nathaniel joined the Animal Care team of Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia in April 2018 after successfully completing an intense five-month training with HSI. As a native of the Charlesville community, Nathaniel is grateful to be working with the chimpanzees. He has a special connection to Hannie, who lives on Island 4.
Emmanuel K. Saykpah
Emmanuel K. Saykpah joined Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge in July of 2019. As Office Manager, Emmanuel works closely with the Humane Society International team to ensure financial records are accurate and to communicate any HR needs. After earning his B.Sc. in Accounting from the Seventh Day Adventist University in 2018, he went on to obtain certificates in Banking & Finance and Public Financial Management at the Liberia Institute of Public Administration in 2019. He also worked as a volunteer for Medical Teams International during Liberia’s Ebola outbreak in 2014 – 2015. Emmanuel is a wonderful addition to the team and has a great deal of respect for the work everyone at the sanctuary carries out every day. His favorite chimp is DJ because of the strong friendships he maintains!
Tenneh joined the team in 2015. She works to ensure our office is well maintained and organized while also helping with chimpanzee food preparation, such as making popcorn for over 60 chimpanzees. Prior to being on our team, Tenneh traded groceries in Charlesville and was a part-time housekeeper for the previous director of the lab. Tenneh is grateful for the opportunity to better the lives of the animals she considers to be the wise men of the bush.
John started working with the laboratory in 1983, with the main role of purchasing food for the chimpanzees. Appropriate food of the chimpanzees requires significant travel to many places in Liberia, include remote villages. As a result, he also took on the role of a driver, which he now carries out for Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia. John is selfless in his role and is always willing to work extra days in order to accommodate the chimps’ needs.
Tarweh Jallah serves as Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge’s Chief of Security. Tarweh joined the team in June of 2019 and came with a breadth of experience to bring to his position. After attending AME Zion University to study Sociology with a minor in Criminal Justices, he successfully completed training in Surveillance Detection conducted by the Regional Security Office of the United States Embassy. He has served in a variety of security roles for Inter-Con Security Systems of Liberia, the United States Embassy, EarthSource Mineral International Security, and most recently as Chief of Security for Town Center Community in the Township of New Georgia. At Second Chance, Tarweh is responsible for leading the security team and ensuring the protection of the offices, boat dock, guest quarters, and chimpanzee islands. Tarweh brings not only his experience, but also his enthusiasm to his role. His favorite chimpanzee is Bullet, who has endured so much. After losing his right arm at a very young age due to being shot by poachers as his mother was killed, he was brought to the laboratory and subjected to invasive research for decades. Tarweh loves seeing how happy and strong Bullet is now, living on Island 5 in a large social group.
Henry was born in Bong Mines, Bong County, Liberia. Like many of the children in his village, Henry started school late because there were no schools in the area at that time. When he was around eight years old, Henry had the opportunity to move to Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, to live with his grandmother and enroll in school. Unfortunately, not long afterwards, Liberia’s civil war forced him to put his education on hold again. During the years his education was delayed, Henry devoted himself to community service and even served as a teacher to some of the children in his community. Ultimately, after many hardships and delays, Henry earned his high school diploma and West African Examinations Council (WAEC) Certificate in 2002. Henry has amassed an impressive 20 years of experience in security operations, bringing a wealth of knowledge and skills to our team, which he joined in July 2020 as a Security Guard. His favorite chimp is Bullet!
Pewee Duah was born in Barbarwuee Town, Lower Grand Bassa County. He was raised in the communities that surround the sanctuary. Pewee started farming at a very early age to support his family. Pewee and his family were very skilled farmers, however, due to Liberia’s civil wars and economic challenges, it became clear that farming could not guarantee their livelihood. Fortunately, Pewee joined the Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia team in February of 2019 as the warden of Island 1A. With his rich history and strong relationships in the area, Pewee has played a crucial role in ensuring the chimpanzees’ protection on a daily basis. Pewee is especially fond of Finn, an 8-year-old male on Island 1A. He loves to see how happy Finn is every time the caregivers arrive at meal time.
Glay was born in Charlesville, where Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia is based. Throughout his youth, Glay faced hardships and a lack of opportunities due to Liberia’s civil wars. However, after attending school in Paynesville and Unification City, Glay returned to his hometown of Charlesville and joined our team as a security guard in March 2019! Glay does his excellent job of helping to keep the chimpanzees and sanctuary grounds safe. His favorite chimp is Samantha!
Jerry Koko Jacobs
Jerry was born in December Village, Township of Charlesville, Lower Margibi County, Liberia. He graduated with his high school diploma and WAEC from Y.M.C.A High School in 2009. Since 2018, he has been a student at the Harbel College, studying Civil Engineering. Jerry has a passion for community service and has served as a teacher in the local community schools. This passion compelled him to enroll into Kakata Rural Teachers’ Training Institute (KRTTI), where he graduated in 2013 with a degree in Mathematics. Jerry also has a great deal of experience in security operations, and joined our team as a security guard in July of 2020. He has played an important role in ensuring the safety of the chimpanzees, staff, and sanctuary property. Jerry is very fond of DJ, a charismatic and cheerful male on Island 4.
T. Adolphus Koffa
T. Adolphus Koffa joined Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia in 2020 as the warden of Island 1. Adolphus was born in the Borough of New Kru Town and graduated from the Free Baptist High School with a High School Diploma and WAEC Certificate. He holds an Associate Degree in Biblical Studies from an online study at the End Time Glory Training Center, Willmar, Minnesota, USA.
Adolphus joined us with a great deal of experience, including teaching at New Life School of Excellence in Montserrado County, serving as security officer at the Liberia Electricity Corporation, as well as holding security roles with the Liberian Maritime Training Institute in Marshall and the Pilot Security Consultancy. Adolphus has undertaken the important role at SCCRL of serving as the warden of Island 1. This island is closest to the most human activity out of all the islands, as it is near Marshall City, where Adolphus resides.
Daniel Mondeh began working with the chimpanzees in 2007 as a Warden. Prior to this, he began working as a farmer at a very early age. Daniel is responsible for the all-day care and observation of the chimpanzees on Island 4. In his own words, he professes a profound connection with the male chimp called DJ.
Junior began working with the chimpanzees in 2012 as a Warden. Prior to this, he began working as a farmer at a very early age. Junior’s responsibilities include caring for and observing the chimps on a daily basis on Island 2.
Jacob started working with the chimpanzees in 1983. He was responsible for transporting animals from the inland laboratory to the islands. He narrates the harrowing stories of the way he was only allowed to feed the islands’ retired chimpanzees three times a week. He was later moved away from the islands to support the researchers by cleaning facilities and preparing animal food. He served in this role until the war time in 1990. In 2009, after the war had ended, he became a full-time team member in the role of Chief Security personnel, which he continues today for Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia.
Friday Roberts was born and raised in Dolo’s Town, one of the communities near our project area. He graduated with a Diploma in 2007, upon which he took on his first job with the Plant Protection Department of Firestone. Friday then worked in several security roles before he joined the team at Second Chance as a security officer in 2020.
Friday has helped a great deal in the professionalization and strengthening of our onsite security. He has loved working with Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge and is great with the chimps and all our resident domestic animals. He even loves the stray ducks and chickens that frequent the area surrounding our head office!
Morris Thomas began work with Humane Society International as one of the Snafu Dock security officers. Morris secures the dock, boats, and other operational marine gear. He enjoys his job and is proud to be part of helping the staff access the islands.
Friday was born in Sand Farm village to the Town Chief. He is also grandson to Dorzue, a village elder who originally donated Island 3 to the laboratory many years ago for the retirement care of the chimpanzees. Sadly, Friday’s father passed away in 2016. Since then, Friday has taken on the role of Town Chief of Sand Farm.
Friday joined Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia in June 2018 as warden of Island 3! He fit in naturally and continues to play an important role in ensuring the wellbeing of the chimps. He has developed a warm relationship with Shaffa, one of the big male chimps on Island 3.
Otto Whlogar joined our team as a security officer in 2020. He grew up in Charlesville, the community where our project is located, and attended the First United Methodist School. Otto, an athlete, played for the Asalakon Football Club here in Charlesville during his youth.
Otto’s experience includes working as a security guard for the Macdella Cooper Foundation and the Geo Service Security Service at Roberts International Airport. Before joining Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia, Otto also worked for the Charlesville Township to maintain the main roads during the rainy season.
Otto is excited to work for SCCRL as a security guard. His favorite chimp is DJ – the only male chimp of Island 4.
Fedesco Koko Wutu started working with the chimpanzees in 2013 as a Warden. He now spends long hours watching over the chimpanzees on Island 5 and knows all of their different characters and behaviors well. His vigilance and enthusiasm make him a great asset to the team. Due to traffic, island 5 is the most vulnerable chimp island, making Koko’s security there a great responsibility.
Oliver Yoryor started working with the chimpanzees in 2007 as a security officer. His many years of experience and commitment to the animals bring great value to the Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia team. Oliver has committed the majority of his adult working life to the chimpanzees and his role compliments the project’s goal well.