Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time


A Dying Puppy’s Rags to Riches Story

January 8, 2019 by Leave a Comment

The News

While driving through a remote village in Liberia in November, 2016, Jenny Desmond, who runs a nearby chimpanzee sanctuary, saw a dying puppy lying on the side of the road. After confiscating the dog, who she named Snafu, she brought him home in an effort to save his life.

According to Jenny’s husband, Jim, who is one of two veterinarians working in Liberia, Snafu was digesting his own muscle and near death. TheirTurn, who was in Liberia documenting the Desmonds’ chimpanzee rescue and conservation efforts, captured Snafu’s rescue and his extraordinary journey from rags to riches.

After saving Snafu’s life, Jenny and Jim Desmond brought him to Colorado to live with Jenny’s sister and her family.

The Desmonds moved to Liberia in 2015 to oversee the care of 66 former research chimpanzees who had been abandoned by the New York Blood Center on six islands on a river about 1.5 hours outside of Monrovia, the country’s capital. Shortly after the Desmond’s arrival, forestry authorities began bringing them baby chimpanzees who they seized from poachers attempting to sell them as pets on the black market. With 35 chimpanzees in their care, the Desmonds are racing against time to build sanctuary in the forest that can house rescued chimpanzees and serve as a conservation center to help protect Liberia’s remaining wild chimpanzees in their forest home.

Your Turn

For more information and to see how you can help, please visit Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection.

Filed under: Companion Animals
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Rescued Chimps Get a Second Chance

July 15, 2017 by Leave a Comment

The News

By the time orphaned chimps arrive at Liberia Chimp Rescue & Protection’s (LCRP) new sanctuary, they have experienced more tragedy than most humans will experience in a lifetime. That’s because they watched poachers kill their mothers for bushmeat before kidnapping them and hauling them out of their forest home in an attempt to sell them as exotic pets. 

“Most of the orphans are inconsolable when they arrive,” Jenny Desmond, who, along with her husband Jim, created LCRP. “You can see the heartbreak in their eyes.”

When orphaned chimps arrive at Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection, caregivers work to help them recover from the trauma of losing their families; being kidnapped from the forest and being held captive by poachers. (photo: Jenny Desmond)

When government authorities deliver baby chimps to LCRP after confiscating them from poachers, Jenny and Jim swing into action right away, assigning a human caregiver to be the baby’s surrogate mother. With the support and guidance from the Desmonds, who have spent their careers working at sanctuaries, the caregivers spend the next days, weeks and months helping the chimps recover by bottle feeding them, playing with them, introducing them to other orphans, sleeping next to them and ultimately integrating them into a chimp group. In time, most of the chimps recover from their trauma and find happiness at the sanctuary.

“These babies should be in the forest, but, because poachers killed their mothers and families, they have to be raised by humans,” said Jenny Desmond. “We are their surrogate mothers – day and night. At about age five, wild chimpanzees start sleeping separately from their mothers, so we use this, along with their needs and personalities, to determine when they’re ready to fully integrate into our older nursery group and spend their days and nights with other chimps.”

Jenny Desmond, co-founder of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection, plays with an orphaned chimp

The Desmonds hope that they can one day return some of these chimps to their natural habitat in the Liberian forests, which have an estimated 7,000 wild chimps remaining. Re-introduction, however, is a complicated, long-term process. In the meantime, they are creating as natural a life as possible for the chimps in a sanctuary setting. 

Jim Desmond, co-founder of LCRP and caregiver Annie, act as surrogate parents for the orphaned chimps.

The Desmonds arrived in Liberia in 2015 to take care of another population of chimps — the 66 who were abandoned on deserted islands by the New York Blood Center. Within weeks of their arrival, however, the FDA (Forestry Development Authority) knocked on their front door and dropped off two infants. In just over a year, that number has grown to 16.  The Desmonds have outgrown their space and plan to move to a more remote location in the forest where the babies can, along with their human caregivers and other chimps, can live in a semi-wild environment with minimal human contact.

As babies become adolescents, they are integrated into chimp groups and spend less time interacting with humans.

“Chimps are wild animals, not pets,” said Desmond. “Ideally, the only people who should be interacting with them are their surrogate mothers who provide them with the parenting and TLC that they need to survive during their first several years of life.” 

The Desmonds are working with government authorities and other NGOs to protect chimpanzees, a critically endangered species, in their forest home. Combatting Liberia’s illegal bushmeat and exotic pet trades means far fewer baby chimps will be orphaned and need sanctuary. They hope that ecotourism – trekking to see habituated chimps in the forest – can eventually be a source of income for those who are now poaching chimps and selling their meat. “Chimps are a valuable renewable resource for Liberians, as mountain gorillas are for Rwandans, but that means protecting them instead of killing them,” said Desmond. 

Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP)

Between protecting wild chimps in the forest and raising orphaned chimps at the sanctuary, the Desmonds have a lot of work to do – in a difficult setting. Thankfully, they have a team of dedicated caregivers at LCRP who genuinely love the chimps and their jobs.

Your Turn

Please follow Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection on Facebook by giving their page a “like.”

Please make a contribution to support the life saving work of LCRP.

Dedicated caregivers at LCRP help orphaned chimps recover from the emotional trauma of losing their families.

Filed under: WIldlife
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In Daring Public Action, Animal Rights Activists Liberate Innocent Death Row Prisoners

May 13, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

On May 8th, animal rights activists in Dublin, Ireland, liberated nine lobsters from a Chinese restaurant and released them into their natural habitat, giving them the chance to live and generating widespread media attention about the cruelty of boiling live animals.

Animal rights activists scoop lobsters out of small tank in Dublin restaurant

Animal rights activists scoop lobsters out of small tank in Dublin restaurant

Activists remove rubber bands from lobster claws before releasing them into the sea. (photo: NARA)

Activists remove rubber bands from lobster claws before releasing them into the sea. (photo: NARA)

In an interview with BBC, the founder of the National Animal Rights Association (NARA), Laura Broxson, said that the activists were motivated by compassion in what was a “life or death” situation for the lobsters: “They were free and had the chance to live, rather than facing certain death by being boiled alive.”

By intentionally revealing their faces while filming the liberation (“Open Rescue”), the participants could face legal consequences, a risk that some activists take in order to show the public that they are regular, relatable people, not the mask-wearing “terrorists” portrayed in the media. The real terrorists, they argue, are those who exploit and kill animals, not those who rescue them from egregious abuse and imminent death.

In January, activists with London Vegan Actions used a different approach to advocate for lobsters – staging a loud disruption on their behalf inside of a restaurant that serves them at multiple locations. Using a megaphone, they chanted, “If you want to get some peace, make the lobster torture cease.” After being aggressively ejected from the restaurant by staff, the activists continued to chant through the bullhorn at the restaurant’s entrance.

In the United States alone, more than 20 million lobsters are consumed each year. The unthinkable end of lobsters’ lives – being boiled or torn apart while still alive – often overshadows the horrific journey they take from the ocean to the kitchen. After being caught in traps and dragged out of their homes onto boats, lobsters are transferred into restaurant or grocery store tanks where they suffer from hunger, low oxygen level, stress, confinement and overcrowding. Scientists have proven that lobsters suffer.

lobster cartoon

Rina Deych, a New York City-based activist who has spoken out against home delivery of live lobsters said, “We are quick to demonize people in other cultures for boiling puppies and kittens alive, yet in our society, people think nothing of dropping a sentient creature of another species into a pot of boiling water.”

In 2008, an Australian apparel company called Just Jeans produced a provocative commercial in which customers in Chinese restaurant make a spur of the moment decision to empty the lobster tank and release the animals into the ocean.

The Dublin liberation was conducted by the National Animal Rights Association, Direct Action for Animals and The Alliance for Animal Rights.

Filed under: Food, Victories
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Chicago Bans Sale of Commercially bred Dogs, Cats & Rabbits

March 5, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

According to the Chicago Tribune, the City Council today voted 49-1 to ban the sale of commercially bred dogs, cats and rabbits in Chicago. According to a City clerk, the law “cuts off a pipeline of the animals coming from the horrendous puppy mill industry and instead moves us towards a retail pet sales model that focuses on adopting out the many, many homeless animals [from shelters and rescues] in need of loving homes in this city.” Chicago joins Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and many other U.S. cities have already instituted a ban. In January, New York state passed a law giving local municipalities the power to impose their own regulations on pet sales, according to the Daily News. The NYC Council has since introduced a bill that would prevent city pet stores from buying cats and dogs from unlicensed breeders.


News & Opinion

Until every homeless animal in a shelter or at a rescue finds a forever home, we must continue to lobby for the passage of laws banning the sale of companion animals from commercial breeding operations. And, even then, we must always fight for the closure of puppy mills, which are cruel and dangerous businesses that treat animals like commodities. To anyone working in animal rescue, the “kill lists” are a daily reminder of the crisis of overpopulation and the importance of adoption and animal birth control. If helping homeless animals is important to you, please consider volunteering at a local shelter, helping place animals in foster homes, lobbying for laws banning the sale of commercially bred animals, and, of course, encouraging people to adopt, not shop.

Filed under: Companion Animals, Victories
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Strays of Sochi Shine a Light of Plight of Homeless Animals

February 5, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

After the Russian government hired a pest control company to slaughter the stray dogs of Sochi in advance of the Olympics, a Russian billionaire donated funds to build a makeshift shelter to save as many as possible. According to the NY Times, “local animal rights workers say many of the strays were pets, or the offspring of pets, abandoned by families whose homes with yards were demolished over the past few years to make way for the Olympic venues.”

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

News & Opinion

The round up and slaughter of strays in Sochi shined a light on the plight of homeless animals around the world and the taxing and unending job of rescuers to save them.  All of us can help by promoting adoption and animal birth control, by volunteering at local shelters and by using our social networks to help find forever homes for homeless animals.

Filed under: Companion Animals
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