Jenny and Jim Desmond are parents to an unusual and very large family – over twenty orphaned baby chimpanzees. Their home in Liberia is rapidly becoming too small for this rambunctious troop of animals, so they’re building a sanctuary in the forest. But before the babies can move out, they need to learn how to live like wild chimps. They need to attend a baby chimp school.
This clip from the show Baby Chimp Rescue, hosted by Professor Ben Garrod, shares how the young chimpanzees are climbing, leaping, and cuddling their way to a better understanding of how to live independently in the wild. From BBC Earth:
Jim says it’s important to simulate what the chimps’ lives would be like in the wild. That means 24-hour care until the age of 2.5 years like they would get with their mothers.
“They’re literally attached to you. They sleep with us, they sleep in the bed with us, they go with us everywhere,” says Jenny. “It’s pretty crazy, you have a chimp attached to you pretty much all the time, if not more than one.”
The Desmonds’ chimp family continues to grow. They are trying to relocate to new facilities in 40 hectares of forest giving the chimps an even more natural life.
And some information from the BBC Media Centre:
Chimpanzees share around 96 percent of human DNA. Like humans, they have complex emotions, a high level of intelligence, unique finger prints and even a sense of humour. Sadly, chimpanzee numbers have plummeted in West Africa in the last 25 years and they are now classified as critically endangered species. Wild chimpanzee mothers are killed for bush meat and their babies are sold as high-value pets. While it is illegal to keep chimpanzees as pets in Liberia, many are unaware of the law.
Sadly, many of the rescued chimp babies lost their mothers before they were able to learn key skills, and will not be able to return to the wild. Professor Ben Garrod, evolutionary biologist and conservationist, will help Jimmy and Jenny teach the chimps vital life lessons such as climbing, foraging for food and recognising danger. Ben will visit the Desmonds and their ever-growing chimp family over 12 months. Together, the team hope that the chimps will grow up to live independent lives within their new home.
Watch these related videos next:
• Are We Really 99% Chimp?
• 100+ hours of lost 1960s footage: The Jane Goodall documentary
• Climbing into the treetops with a chimpanzee cam