STAFF at Dorset’s Monkey World ape rescue centre have welcomed their latest arrival, a chimpanzee saved from nine years of solitary confinement in the Lebanon.

Kiki, a female chimpanzee, was smuggled into the Lebanon and sold by African hunters after they brutally killed her family.

She was to spend almost a decade locked in a small cage on her own until Monkey World stepped-in earlier this month.

The latest chapter in Kiki’s traumatic story unravelled during her rescue, as the day Monkey World staff arrived in Beirut to fly her out, the Lebanese government collapsed.

Hezbollah and allies withdrew from the country’s coalition over a UN probe into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

However, this political turmoil didn't prevent the team, nor the British and Lebanese authorities, from working to fly Kiki to the safety of the UK.

Monkey World director Dr Alison Cronin said: “It is amazing to see that after being stolen from the wild and kept in a small cage in solitary confinement for nine years, her instinct to live with others of her own kind is so strong.

“Family and friends are the most important part of a chimpanzee’s life and here at Monkey World we give them families and their lives back again.

“It is great to see Kiki making so much progress so quickly.”

Monkey World was assisted by welfare organisation Animals Lebanon during the rescue, which culminated in a 15-hour flight on a Middle Eastern Airlines flight to London.

Chimpanzees, the closest genetic relatives to humans, are an endangered species threatened by habitat destruction and the bush meat trade.

Despite her years in solitary, one week after her arrival at Monkey World Kiki was making friends with other adolescent female chimpanzees and had met the group’s dominant male, Hananya.

To date, Monkey World in Wool has assisted 19 different governments around the world to stop the illegal smuggling of monkeys and apes from the wild.