I went to this evening as someone lucky enough to be living in Bristol & to have seen the advert, as someone who has done their first volunteering ‘holiday’& who wants to do plenty more ~ orangutans being the goal, although those are the more expensive experiences, so am starting small (cheaper), as someone who tentatively wants to be part of making a difference, hence why I started this blog, initially to share my volunteering experiences, but as they will be only once or twice a year (limited funds) ~ to give in other ways, so as someone who believes in fate & karma & all ~ this evening & the way it came along, felt like I should make the effort & go
Ian Redmond OBE, kicked off the evening, explaining that their are ‘true conservationists’ who believe that there is no place for sanctuaries, that they do not solve the problem or any problems, but he disagrees & frankly so do I, after all, where are all the ‘saved’ animals supposed to go ?? Do we really just euathanise them ??
Ian Singleton of Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, joined us on Skype (I assumed the speakers would all be present, but not the case) it was the middle of the night for him. I felt very inspired by Ian who had started by working in zoo’s, the last being Jersey zoo which inspired him to want to do more. Ian is hell bent on rehabilitating the orangutans that come into his care, he is saddened that he currently has 5 or 6 that can never be released as that’s his ultimate mission, BUT I am sure he has released 135 ~ which is, I think, BEYOND amazing. The programme has a group of islands, for releasing the orangutans onto & they are able to build rope bridges to join one island to another, in order that the groups can meet each other when the times appropriate.
Jenny & Jimmy Desmond, also joined us on Skype. An American couple are heading a programme in Liberia, The Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue, they were accompanied by baby chance who was adorable & well behaved. Their programme is very new, about two years old, they also plan to have a series of release islands. Jimmy is currently the ONLY vet in Liberia, which seems incredible & another of their aims is to encourage future vets.
Alison Cronin of Monkey World was actually in the room, my daughter has visited Monkey World & really enjoyed it, I must admit I didn’t realise how it came about. Alisons husband Jim started the sanctuary in 1987, he was disturbed by the chimps he saw on Spanish beaches, being used as tourist attractions, whilst this is unlawful, the reason it still occurred was because law enforcement could not confiscate the chimps as they had no where to put them, the touts did get arrested & held in jails ~ but their chimp would be in the next cell & handed back when the tout was released, & from listening at this seminar, this seems to be one of the main focuses why people get away with illegally owning animals, their is simply nowhere in many of these countries to surrender them to. Jim made an agreement with the Spanish government, that if they confiscated the chimps, he would ship them to the UK & provide a home & so Monkey World was born & countries around the world know that they can call them up & a home will be provided for confiscated apes, they also have a project in Vietnam. Sadly Jim passed away, but Alison carries on his work & I have to say, represented her cause VERY well !!
Grainne McCabe was also in the room, I am afraid to say I didn’t find her awfully engaging, I am sure she was there representing Bristol Zoo & promoting the work they do with Ape Action Africa, for whom she showed a couple of short videos.
The evening was very interesting & I learned alot of things, MAINLY that we Westerners are the ones who need to lead the way in making a difference, the countries where these atrocities are happening aren’t likely to stop, not while they are making money from whatever they are doing, WE have to say NO to palm oil, NO to illegal pet trade, NO to making ‘potions’ from animal parts, NO to canned hunting, NO to riding elephants, NO to petting tigers in temples & sadly the list goes on, it’s time to say NO, while there’s still time to ensure the survival of these amazing creatures !!