Meet the team
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.
Morris represents Humane Society International in Liberia as its Country Director. In his role, he leads program development and management in order to promote HSI’s position both inside and outside of Liberia on a wide variety of animal protection issues, including those impacting companion animals and wildlife. He also networks and establishes relationships with high-level stakeholders in the country. Morris is a member of the Rabies Technical Working Group of Liberia and Species Working Group. Prior to joining HSI, Morris founded the Liberia Animal Welfare and Conservation Society.
Joseph B. Thomas
Joseph has been intensely involved with all of the chimpanzees since 1979, when he worked as an animal caretaker at the laboratory. He was quickly promoted to Chimpanzee Supervisor in 1981 and later oversaw the chimpanzees’ care throughout their integrations and relocation to the islands in 2006 and 2007. Today, he acts as Deputy Director of Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia, checking on and feeding the chimpanzees nearly every single day. Joseph talks fondly of so many chimpanzees and while he loves all of them, his favorite is Samantha, the oldest chimpanzee on the islands. He was thrilled the day he found out the chimps would finally be retired and was a natural at helping them to integrate into new groups to be moved to their island homes. Joseph helped to move all of the chimpanzees we now know and love and continues to care for them, providing not only food and observation but also TLC.
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.”
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.
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 Supervisor of Animal 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.
Paul B. Kennedy joined the Animal Care team of Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia in April 2018 and successfully completed a five-month training course. As one of the Charlesville community youth leaders, Paul is well-suited for the responsibilities that come with working on the Animal Care team and has demonstrated his leadership skills through his duties. He is particularly fond of a male chimpanzee named DJ and a youngster named Spright.
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 Supervisor of Animal Care 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.
Alex started working as a medical technician aid (MTA) when the chimpanzees were in the laboratory in 1979. Despite witnessing the research that occurred at the laboratory, the destructive civil wars in Liberia, and the horrendous Ebola epidemic, Alex emerged from each experience stronger and more determined to dedicate himself to caring for the chimpanzees. Alex’s many years of varied experience makes him a valuable Senior Animal Caregiver at Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia.
Tyrese Thomas recently joined Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia in April 2018 as a member of the Animal Care team. Tyrese left a World Food Programme position to make his dream job of working with the chimpanzees a reality. He has already shown that he is a team player and skilled caregiver who has already established a trust with the chimpanzees.
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 Administrator, Accounting & Human Resources. 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.
Edwin B. Bennie
Edwin joined the laboratory as an electrician in 2009. Due to his hard work, he was one of the few staff members who remained working for the lab throughout challenging times. He was later promoted to electrical and maintenance assistant and currently works on the Maintenance team of Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia. His work to ensure smooth operations is essential to the well-being of the chimpanzees.
Cakpa has been involved with the chimpanzees since 1974. He was hired as a mechanic and driver and has held this critical position for over 40 years. He is a very hard worker, extremely talented mechanic, and skilled driver. The road conditions in Liberia provide special and ongoing vehicle maintenance needs. Cakpa expresses his immense gratitude to Humane Society International and our donors for coming to Liberia and saving not only the chimps, but also the jobs of the staff who care for them and run operations.
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.
George started at the lab in 1978 as a member of the kitchen staff. His duties included preparing food and medicine for the chimpanzees, which were then delivered to the medical technical assistants to distribute to the animals. He was then trained as a lab technician in 1980 in the fields of parasitology, bacteriology, histology, hematology, and cell separation. In 1987, he was appointed as a food procurement officer and maintains this position with Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia. George is very fond of Teta on Island 1, who he fondly refers to as, “My daughter Teta”.
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.
Sammy Joseph started working with the chimpanzees in 1989. He was the first staff member responsible for the relocation of the chimps to Island 1 and was given the task of ensuring that the shores were deep enough to avoid escapes. In 2005, Sammy was promoted to Security. Sammy is glad to be part of a project that gives the chimpanzees a decent life and future after what they endured in the laboratory.
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.
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.
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.
Alfred T. Young
Alfred began his journey of working with the chimpanzees in 1971, including the role of Medical Technical Assistant until 2009. He currently holds the position of Chief Security at the dock for Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia. Alfred misses daily interactions with the chimpanzees but recognizes that his role of ensuring security of the dock is essential to the welfare of the chimpanzees.
John began working at the laboratory as an office messenger in 2002, but soon moved into the role of security. Although John still serves as security at Second Chance Chimpanzee Refuge Liberia's compound, he has a deep passion for the chimpanzees and hopes to work toward becoming an animal caregiver in the future.