Between 1989-1992, Bala teamed with Rosalind Alp, who was studying wild chimpanzees in Sierra Leone, and together they completed an investigation into pet chimpanzee numbers. They found 55 captive chimpanzees in Freetown alone.

Rumour had it, that one of the chimpanzees in Freetown had been abandoned by her Scottish expatriate owner. Bala went to the address where he found Julie in her cage. He took Julie to his house where she was gradually introduced to Bruno. After a few weeks the two chimpanzees were inseparable friends.

Bala was offered more chimpanzees as word spread that there was a couple rescuing neglected and unwanted chimpanzees.