Chimpanzees are facing a “conservational disaster” with adult chimps being killed for illegal bushmeat and their babies being sold off as pets.
Husband and wife team Jenny and Jimmy Desmond are trying to prevent an environmental disaster as mankind’s closest cousins are under threat like never before.
They rescued one adorable baby chimp, named Lucy, when she was being sold by a Liberan man four years ago, reports MirrorOnline.
Lucy, then six months old, became one of the first guests at Jenny and Jimmy’s Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection centre.
The pair were inspired to start a wildlife rescue centre in 1999, when they visited the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Borneo while they were on honeymoon.
For the next couple of years, they travelled across Africa and Asia, volunteering at sanctuaries and wildlife conservation organisations to learn and to understand how they operate.
Then Jenny decided to get in touch with world-famous primatologist Jane Goodall to get her advice on how her husband might gain experience with African wildlife to strengthen his applications for vet school.
Jane put the Colorado couple in touch with staff at the Jane Goodall Institute, who took them in as managers of the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre.
Jenny and Jimmy have dedicated their lives to giving orphaned chimps the best start in life – and that means recreating an environment as close as possible to what they would encounter in the wild.
The baby chimps get 24/7 care until they’re at least two years old.
“They’re literally attached to you,” says Jenny. “They sleep in the bed with us, they go with us everywhere. It’s pretty crazy.
“They’re so much like humans, it really is like you have children.”
Jimmy and Jenny get some help with the parenting. Their dog Princess plays an important role as a canine caregiver, playing with her chimp “siblings,” as well as helping set behavioural boundaries.
But Jenny warns that despite their best efforts the chimps are in real danger, and the bushmeat instrstry represents an existential threat to the species : “If we allow this trade to continue, in the near future, this majestic species could be wiped out.”