Monday, January 7, 2013

Update on Trip and Changes at Chimp Eden

With only 24 days to go until I fly to Johannesburg, I wanted to give a few updates to my trip. More importantly, I wanted to let you all know about some changes at Chimp Eden and how that may alter my plans.

The flights are booked, insurance purchased, and I take the last dose of my typhoid vaccine tomorrow. (See a post coming later this week about travel health). I also dreamed last night that I got there and all the monkeys were laughing at me - I suppose the equivalent of first day at school nerves.

Some of you may know that I have been in contact with David Devo Oosthuizen, the Executive Director of the Jane Goodall Institute in South Africa. Because of this, I already knew that some changes at Chimp Eden might mean I need to be make some changes to my original plans. Yesterday, the Jane Goodall Institute and the Cussons family both issued press releases about the future of Chimp Eden. You can read both statements here.

So it seems that I have really bad timing, huh?

What does this mean for my trip? Firstly, I want to reassure all of you who have generously helped to make this trip possible that it is still going ahead. My original plan had been to spend two weeks at a monkey sanctuary near Pretoria, before flying to Nelspruit to spend two weeks at Chimp Eden. At the moment, with the changes at Chimp Eden, it is uncertain whether their volunteer program will be reestablished in time for me to spend two weeks there in February; I will be contacting David in another week or two to find out.

If I am unable to volunteer there, my backup plan is to spend three weeks at the sanctuary in Pretoria. I will then still fly up to Nelspruit, where I will spend a week exploring Kruger National Park. I will still visit Chimp Eden. David has made it clear that even if the volunteer program is not in place, I am still very welcome to visit. In that case, I would hope to spend at least two days there, looking around, learning about the facilities and the changes, and chatting with staff.

Travel plans have to be flexible, and I am confident that this trip will be more enriching than I could ever imagine, whatever schedule I follow.

P.S. Those who supported my IndieGoGo campaign are no doubt wondering about the private trip blog. This is currently being set up so it will be in place before I depart. Details will be sent to each of you nearer the time.

Thank you again for your support.

1 comment:

  1. It is a damn shame Chimp Eden was stolen from the Cusson family who started the program and donated their ancestral land (with the help of Goodall of course). And there has to be a legal clause allowing no comments regarding their outsting as well. How awful this must be for them and has been horrible for their fans too as they did a much better job of running the facility and were much more dedicated. All Goodall is doing is attempting to do is use an infant chimp that should have not been bred in the first place to raise as much money as they can at the neglect of the others. I had been a major supporter when under the Cussons but will not give a single dime to Goodall and feel sorry for the chimps and remaining staff. What a shame, would be nice to know the real story behind all of her politics!