Sunday, 19 February 2012

Jeremy & Amy

Jeremy & Amy - The extraordinary true story of one man and his Orang-utan by Jeremy Keeling

We live not too far from Monkey World in Dorset, and went for a visit yesterday, where I bought this book. I sat down to read it as soon as I got home and stayed up yesterday evening until I'd finished it.

It's a memoir, covering the story of how the author, aided (not much) by his orang-utan Amy whom he'd hand-reared, along with Jim Cronin set up Monkey World which is a sanctuary for abused primates. Jeremy grew up in a zoo - his parents owned their own zoo and kept pumas in the back room. He had a horrendous childhood, although is thankful for the opportunities he had to learn about animals. After various jobs in zoos or looking after private menageries, he met Cronin and shared his dream of building the sanctuary, which finally got off the ground in the early 90s and is now world-renowned.

It's a lovely read - the animal characters come at least as alive as the humans, and I was left impressed at the author's obvious dedication to the animals. They aim to look after primates who've been abused in laboratories or discarded pets, or ex-circus. They don't enter into the politics of the situations - they just take the animals and nurse them better, then give them a wholly better life.

Yesterday it was cold, and a lot of the animals were indoors. But the capuchins were lively, and an orang-utan put on a brilliant show for us, swinging on a strip of towel she'd looped over a bar, and kissing the glass between her and her appreciative audience with every swing. Happy animals (on both sides of the glass!) I recommend a visit, as well as the book!

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