Professor Ben Garrod returns to our screens in chimp documentary

Prof Ben Garrod, Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Science Engagement at UEA, will be combining nature with nurture as he teaches young chimps life lessons in a new BBC series which starts airing this week.

‘Baby Chimp Rescue’ is a new three-part series following the life of orphaned baby chimpanzees as they adapt to life in a rescue compound.

The home, owned and run by wildlife vet Jimmy Desmond and his wife Jenny, is shared by 21 orphaned chimpanzees and their unexpected adopted siblings, a pack of rescued dogs.

The series will see Prof Garrod return to our screens as he visits the couple and their unusual animal family in Liberia.

As a chimp specialist, Prof Garrod will teach the lively primates vital life lessons that their mothers would have ordinarily taught them in the wild, including how to climb, with a view to enabling them to live independently in their new home.

Wild chimpanzee mothers in Liberia are often killed for bush meat and their babies are sold as high-value pets, part of the reason why wild chimpanzees are classified as a critically endangered species.

Prof Garrod said: "We are in a global crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss, and with everything seeming like an ecological uphill struggle, the story of the Desmonds battling to save our closest living relatives is a much needed good-news story.

“If we can save Max, Bui and their relatives, then it gives us hope for the future of countless other species, including ourselves.”

You can catch the first episode of Baby Chimp Rescue in the three part series on Thursday 9 January on BBC Two from 8pm, with the following two episodes on Thursday 16 January and Thursday 23 January. If you miss out on the first episode, you can catch up on iPlayer, where you can also view trailer clips of the series ahead of Thursday.

Ahead of the first episode, Prof Garrod appeared on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday 7 January to talk about the new series and rub shoulders with award-winning grime artist Stormzy.

Ben also touches on his time with the Desmonds in his book ‘The Chimpanzee and Me’ which tells stories about his wider rescue work with chimps.

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