Fernando Turmo: Capturing Compassion in the Congo

Written By: Morgan Armstrong & Anna Muir, JGI Canada Volunteers
Category: From The Field

It was a moment Dr. Jane Goodall herself described as unforgettable—when Wounda, a chimpanzee about to be released into her new forest home at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Sanctuary in the Congo, wrapped the primatologist in a long and touching embrace, a gesture of thanks for her new life and freedom.

Thanks to Fernando Turmo, Image and Communication Coordinator for the Jane Goodall Institute in the Congo, this extraordinary moment was captured on video and shared across the globe, inspiring over a million viewers. Watch the full video here.

Originally from Madrid, Fernando has been captivating audiences with photos and video footage of the Institute’s important work in the Congo since 2006. Highlighting the impacts of environmental devastation and the work that is helping chimpanzees and communities thrive, Fernando inspires viewers to make a positive difference for all living things. “If people do not know what we are doing here, we will not receive the help we need,” he shares.

Fernando is also cultivating compassion for nature among younger audiences through Super Kodoa television series he created about the adventures of Kodo, a boy gifted with superpowers that help him protect animals and the environment in the Congo.


“The hope for youth and children is that when they are adults, they will be more responsible leaders of this world,” shares Fernando.

Fernando also carries out awareness campaigns in schools and in public areas to help people learn about the illegal trafficking of great apes.

“I found my place in the world,” says Fernando of his life at the sanctuary, alongside his wife Dr. Rebeca Atencia, head veterinarian and manager of Tchimpounga, and their children, Kutu and Carel. Fernando is living out his passion for the conservation and protection of endangered primates while bringing the majesty of African wildlife to people around the world.