"Jimmy and I (Jenny) met in Boston. He was working in a Pharmaceutical company, and I was in Sales and Marketing. We soon decided to get married and travel around the world. On our honeymoon trip to Borneo, we met Orangutans and realized that they needed our help.
We started volunteering, and it was not too late, we realized that our hearts lie in working with wildlife conservation. Luckily, Jimmy had a passion to study Veterinary Medicine, and he knew he could make a difference by protecting the wildlife. We kept volunteering at sanctuaries and wildlife conservation organizations to understand their operations.
Eventually, Jimmy took up a Veterinary Medicine course, and I kept working with non-profits strengthening my fundraising skills. Since 2010, we have been working on wildlife conservation in Africa. Five years ago, we were asked to come down to Liberia from Kenya to help some chimps who had been used for research purposes and were abandoned. We decided to stay in Liberia and founded Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection (LCRP).
When we reached Liberia, there were two chimps who were orphaned and were in extremely poor condition. Over time, we started getting more and more orphaned chimps from those who rescued them. The issue of the pet trade and bushmeat persists in Africa. Because of this many chimps' families have been destroyed. Initially, we thought of taking the chimps out of the country to a sanctuary, but when the number of chimps kept increasing, we decided to stay here and solve the problem.
Initially, we started using our house as the base with the first chimps. Later on, we leased 100 acres of forest land. Here we have been building infrastructure for the chimps in order for them to stay comfortably and close to their natural habitat. We have a team of 30 Liberians caregivers who escort 63 chimps in the forest during the day. We have also built night dorms for the chimps for them to sleep at night. Our sanctuary also consists of a nursery, an office, and a food storage unit for the chimps and the care-givers.
Many chimps come to us with a lot of physical challenges such as broken arms or legs or cracked skull. It is indeed heartbreaking to see them this way. They have not only lost their families but also in danger of getting killed by the poachers. We ensure that the chimps start to trust us for us to give them the proper care and support. The process is relatively easier with new-born baby chimps as compared to the ones who are grown-ups.
The biggest challenge we face is with chimps who had suffered some trauma. However, on the brighter side, they get to be in their natural habitat and live with other chimps when they come here. I strongly feel that’s when the healing starts. We also teach chimps the wildlife skills they would need such as termite fishing, nest building, and nut-cracking. Now we have the older chimps teaching the younger chimps. This is very interesting to see.
Lucy is our fifth chimp, and she is a beautiful girl. I remember when we had rescued a pup, Lucy used to carry her down the steps every time just like a mother. Another chimp, Johny was chained up for 10 years. Whenever he sees me, he cuddles me. These little experiences melt my heart. I fail to understand how these chimps have so much love for humans, especially after they were mistreated by some of us for years. In fact, I feel that it is my honour to be accepted by them after what they have gone through.
The chimps have survived the toughest phases of their lives, hence, it is extremely important for all of us to ensure that they live happily for the rest of their lives. Additionally, the people who work with us are those who see good in us. The love and kindness they spread give us immense motivation. In the end, the whole world came together and helped us build this center here and helped chimps live healthy and safe life.
You Humanity pays respect and gratitude to Jenny & Jimmy Desmond for going above and beyond to contribute towards Humanity.
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