Jim and Jenny Desmond have opened their lives, their hearts, their home and even their bed to the youngest orphans of an endangered species, the chimpanzee. There are drawbacks to sharing a bed with chimps, especially the young male named Max. “Yesterday he woke me up by peeing on my head,” Jim says. A rude awakening indeed.
The three-part BBC America documentary series Baby Chimp Rescue (Saturdays at 8pm ET/PT beginning Dec. 5) follows the Desmonds and their team as they operate a rescue center in Liberia, West Africa. They’re preparing the chimps for life in the wild by teaching them essential physical and social skills, everything from climbing trees and finding food to understanding that venomous snakes are not playthings.
Mischievously cute as they are, each of the baby chimps have had a sad start in life. Their mothers were killed by poachers, and the babies — many with shotgun injuries — were sold in the illegal pet trade. “Every guy you see here is a tragedy,” Jim says. “They’ve all been through a really traumatic experience, and they shouldn’t be here. They should be in the forest with their family. That’s where they should be. We’re just trying to give them the best life we can considering the circumstances they’ve been put in.”