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Newborn Chimp Orphan Rescued By Air

November 19, 2020 by Leave a Comment

The News

In early November, 2020, a female chimpanzee was born in Sapo National Park, a Liberian rainforest that is home to between 500 – 1,600 wild chimpanzees. One week later, poachers shot her mother. The newborn, who fell out of the tree with her mother, watched helplessly as a poacher ran off with her mother’s body.  

A park ranger with Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA) heard the gunshots, ran to the scene of the crime and confiscated the infant from one of the poachers. Because he was alone, the FDA ranger could not simultaneously detain the poacher and save the injured infant. After calling for reinforcements, the ranger wrapped the newborn in a blanket and transported her by moped to the Greenville office of Fauna & Flora International (FFI), a global conservation group. Upon her arrival, the newly orphaned chimp was barely clinging to life.

A ranger with Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA) confiscates a newborn chimp from poachers and transports her to Flora & Fauna International

FFI contacted Jenny Desmond and Dr. Jim Desmond, who run Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection, a sanctuary and conservation organization near Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. The Desmonds, who have 63 orphaned chimps in their care, were well equipped to rescue the chimpanzee, now named Mary, but they couldn’t get to her. During rainy season, the road between Greenville and Monrovia is often unnavigable.  As LCRP looked for a solution, the Desmonds coached FFI staffers on how to care for the fragile orphan. 

The staff at the Greenville, LIberia, office of Flora & Fauna International cared for Mary for a week before Jenny Desmond from LCRP could rescue her

Upon learning about the plight of Mary, the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF), another NGO with a presence in Liberia, contacted Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), a Christian charity that provides air travel to local NGOs, to ask if they would fly Jenny to Greenville to retrieve Mary and then fly the two of them back to Monrovia. MAF agreed.

Mission Aviation Fellowship flew Jenny Desmond of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection from Monrovia, Liberia, to Greenville to rescue an infant chimp orphaned by poachers

One week later, Jenny boarded an MAF prop plane to Greenville. 

Andrew Mumford, a pilot with Mission Aviation Fellowship, flew Jenny Desmond of LCRP from Monrovia to Greenville to rescue an infant chimpanzee whose mother was killed by poachers

According to Jenny, Mary is the “youngest, most fragile” chimp she has rescued since arriving in Liberia in 2015. She didn’t know if she and her husband Jim, who is a veterinarian, could save her life, but they were – and still are – determined. In the two weeks since Jenny arrived at FFI’s office in Greenville, Mary has been clinging to her for 24 hours a day, as baby chimps do in the first year of their lives. 

Jenny Desmond of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection Rescues Mary, a two-week old chimp who the Liberian Forestry Development Authority confiscated from a poacher

Mary is recovering from the physical injuries she sustained from falling out of the tree, but she is not out of the woods. She could die from the emotional trauma she is experiencing – having watched her mother get killed. She is also fighting a cold, which can be deadly for an infant chimpanzee. Dr. Desmond has put her on a course of antibiotics. If and when Mary recovers, the Desmonds will introduce her to other chimpanzee toddlers at LCRP to begin her socialization, and they will bring her to the 100 acre forest where they are building a new sanctuary from the ground up. The Desmonds will keep the public updated on Mary’s progress on LCRP’s Facebook page. 

Mary, an orphaned chimp, clings to her surrogate human mother, Jenny Desmond of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP)

Killing wild chimpanzees is illegal in Liberia, and, with the help of Liberia’s Wildlife Crime Task Force, the Forestry Development Authority is working to apprehend the poacher(s) who killed Mary’s mother.  Among FDA’s many avenues of investigation are interviewing villagers around the national forest and searching for chimp meat and/or live chimps in Liberia’s outdoor markets and border crossings. 

Dr. Jim Desmond of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection meets Mary, his newest patient

Mary’s rescue was made possible in part by the Born Free Foundation. In October, Born Free awarded LCRP with a McKenna Travers Award, which consists of emergency funding for the rescue of wild animal orphans. Mary is the first beneficiary at LCRP of the McKenna Travers Award.

Six organizations collaborated to rescue an infant chimp orphaned by poachers

After three weeks, the scab that formed from the injury that Mary sustained on her face fell off.  Mary will spend 24 hours a day with a surrogate human mother until she is confident enough to be transitioned into a toddler group at LCRP, where she will spend the rest of her life.

After three weeks, the disfiguring scab on Mary’s facial wound came off.

LCRP’s rescue and conservation work will be profiled in a three part TV series called Baby Chimp Rescue that was produced by the BBC. The series airs in the United States on BBC America starting on December 5th. 

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Animal Rights Activists Protest at the NYC Homes of Trophy Hunters Eric Trump and Donald Trump, Jr

February 14, 2020 by Leave a Comment

The News

During the 2020 Worldwide Rally Against Trophy Hunting (WRATH) on February 8th, dozens of animal rights activists in New York City staged protests at the homes of America’s two most infamous trophy hunters, Eric Trump and Donald Trump, Jr. Activists marched 20 blocks from Eric and Lara Trump’s apartment on Central Park South to the Central Park West home that Donald Trump, Jr. shares with his fiancé, President Trump advisor Kimberly Guilfoyle.

Throughout the day, hundreds of pedestrians stopped to engage with the activists, and many spoke to TheirTurn about their thoughts on trophy hunting.

During the 2020 Worldwide Rally Against Trophy Hunting, animal rights activists in NYC protest at the homes of Eric Trump and Donald Trump, Jr.

WRATH events are staged each year to coincide with an annual trophy hunting convention organized by Safari Club International, a 50,000 member association “dedicated to protecting the freedom to hunt.”  Donald Trump, Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle played prominent roles at the 2020 convention, with Trump Jr. auctioning off a hunting trip with himself and Guilfoyle hosting a fundraising breakfast for the organization.

Donald Trump, Jr. and his fiancé Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Trump advisor, host fundraising events at Safari Club International’s annual trophy hunting convention

“We are grateful to the activists around the world who came together to raise awareness about the ego-driven and senseless murder of countless wild animals by trophy hunters,” said Carrie LeBlanc, the Executive Director of CompassionWorks International, a Nevada-based animal rights organization that created WRATH. “We stand with conservation groups across the world in developing strategies for sustaining and growing populations of wild animals that do not involve their senseless massacre.”

Hunters Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump pose with their elephant and cape buffalo trophies

Opposition to trophy hunting entered the mainstream public when an American trophy hunter, Walter Palmer, killed Cecil, a beloved lion in Zimbabwe who was well known to park rangers and a favorite among tourists on safari. In spite of the outrage and backlash against Palmer, trophy hunters continue to shoot endangered wild animals and pose for photos with their bodies. Through education, lobbying, and other forms of grass-roots activism, CompassionWorks International and several other animal protection groups around the world are working to stigmatize and outlaw trophy hunting.

Walter Palmer, a trophy hunter from Minnesota, killed and beheaded Cecil, a beloved lion in Zimbabwe.

For more information about WRATH and CompassionWorks International’s advocacy to end trophy hunting, please visit CWI’s online and TrumpAnimalHunters on Facebook.

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Paul Watson: “If The Oceans Die, We Die”

January 7, 2020 by Leave a Comment

The News

Paul Watson, the founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, is best known for using direct action to protect whales from Japanese whaling vessels, but he’s also a world-renowned advocate for the oceans and all of its other inhabitants. During an interview with TheirTurn in New York City, Watson explained why protecting the oceans is not only vital to sea animals but also to the very survival of the human species. “If the oceans die, we die.”

Watson explains that oceans, which he describes as the “blue lungs” of the Earth, produce 70% of the oxygen that we breathe and that the source of the oxygen are phytoplankton. Since 1950, the amount of phytoplankton in the oceans has dropped by 40% due to whaling, commercial fishing, animal agriculture and other forms of pollution.

Watson is the subject of new award-winning documentary film, Watson, that chronicles his career as an eco-warrior on the high seas. Watson is available on Animal Planet.

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Actress Elizabeth Lail Lights Empire State Building Blue for Sea Shepherd

November 11, 2019 by Leave a Comment

The News

On Friday, November 8th, Actress Elizabeth Lail participated in a ceremonial lighting of the Empire State Building to commemorate Sea Shepherd’s Blue For the Oceans Campaign.

Lail, who is best known for her role in the Netflix series You and is starring in the new film Unintended, spoke to TheirTurn about why she is using her celebrity platform to speak on behalf of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society: “I think they’re incredible. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming to think about the environmental crisis and what we can do, so it gives me a lot of hope that there are organizations on the water doing the protecting, making it happen.”

Elizabeth Lail pulls the lever to symbolically activate blue lights on the Empire State Building ignited in honor of Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd volunteers, staff, and board members with Elizabeth Lail at the Empire State Building

Since 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been defending, conserving and protecting the seas and marine life through campaigns and direct action on its fleet of ships. In October, the Hamptons International Film Festival screened Watson, a documentary film by director Lesley Chilcott which chronicles the extraordinary life of Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson.

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Chimp Orphan Rejoices When Greeted with Hugs

April 30, 2019 by Leave a Comment

The News

When Leo was kidnapped from the forest of Liberia, the confused and traumatized baby chimp had no way of knowing whether or not he would ever see members of his own species again. That uncertainty might explain why he beamed with joy as other young chimps greeted him with hugs upon his arrival at Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP), a chimp sanctuary in the West African country. 

“Watching the our juvenile chimp group embrace Leo with so much affection was a feast for the eyes” said Jenny Desmond, the founder of LCRP. “Moments like this serve as an important reminder of why we moved to Liberia in 2015 and why we are moving mountains to transfer all 40 of the orphans in our care to a permanent sanctuary in the forest.”

The chimpanzee orphans at LCRP’s sanctuary are victims of the bushmeat and illegal pet trade. In every case, poachers killed their mothers in the forest and sold – or attempted to sell – them to private individuals as pets or to zoos.  While many chimps are never rescued, about 20 are confiscated by LCRP staff or wildlife authorities each year and brought to the sanctuary where they receive around the clock care from surrogate parents until they can be fully integrated into a chimpanzee group.

In spite of government efforts to curb chimpanzee hunting and trafficking, poachers continue to kill adult chimpanzees for bushmeat and sell their children on the black market. Part of LCRP’s mission is to increase penalties so that poachers stay out of the forests, thus allowing Liberia’s remaining wild chimpanzee population to live safely in their natural habitat.  In the meantime, LCRP will continue to adopt orphaned chimpanzees and provide them with lifelong care.

At the moment, LCRP’s 40 chimpanzees are living in substandard enclosures on government property in a heavily populated village. In 2018, Jenny and Jim Desmond, the founders of LCRP, leased a tract of land in the forest on which to build a sanctuary from the ground up. Now they are working to raise $3 million for the build out. 

“For their safety and well-being, we have to move these chimps out of these enclosures and into a forest setting so that they can live away from the public and in as natural a setting as possible,” said Ms. Desmond. “In order to break ground, we have to raise an additional $500,000 dollars. If you have the means, please make a contribution.” 

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