Chimpanzees Moon, Future, Njabeya, Mado. Photo Marie-Eve Lavigne.
Sheri Speede, a veterinarian and founder of the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center in Cameroon, Africa, unquestioningly understands chimpanzees’ capacity for complex emotions. In her new book, Kindred Beings: What Seventy-Three Chimpanzees Taught Me About Life, Love, and Connection (HarperOne; September 2013; Hardcover; $26.99), Speede unveils the story of how she sold her interest in a thriving veterinary practice in Portland, Oregon to travel across the globe and establish a sanctuary for chimpanzees threatened by habitat loss and the illegal African bush meat trade.
Speede’s journey begins when she is called to Cameroon to provide medical care at a wildlife center and, later, a zoo. During these visits, Speede befriends three chimpanzees confined to small cages as tourist attractions at a seaside hotel. Fueled by deep empathy and a fierce sense of injustice about the fate of these kindred souls, Speede forever changes the course of her life when she dedicates herself to saving these and other captive chimps in Cameroon. Navigating geographic, logistic and medical hardships in a cultural landscape completely foreign to her, Speede perseveres in her mission, eventually building an elaborate sanctuary in the forest and taking the chimpanzees back to their natural habitat.
Books like Kindred Beings, which bring attention to the complex emotional lives of chimpanzees, can increase concern for their struggle to survive. But while this is a story about chimpanzees, it is also Dr. Speede’s story. Major events in her personal life unfold in her story of Africa and run parallel to the development of Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center. As much as anything this compelling memoir is a testimony to the joy and deep fulfillment that ultimately can come from following ones true passion.
READING / BOOK SIGNING:
Thursday, Oct 10th ~ 7-9pm ~ The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle. Dr. Sheri Speede will be in Seattle Oct 10th- 11th.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sheri Speede, a doctor of veterinary medicine, collaborated with the Cameroon government to found the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center, a forested home for orphans of the illegal ape meat trade. With Edmund Stone, she established In Defense of Animals-Africa (IDA-Africa) as a division of IDA International and as the U.S. base of support for the work in Cameroon. Between 1998 and 2011 she lived in Africa full-time; currently, she divides her time between Africa and Portland, Oregon.
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR KINDRED BEINGS
“All who read this book will be deeply moved. How fortunate for Dorothy and the other orphaned, captive chimpanzees—and for those of us who care about them, passionately—that there are people like Sheri Speede who risk their health, and work for a pittance, to rescue them. Sheri’s words will bring a tear to all but the hardest of hearts. And a lot of smiles as well.”
—Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and a UN Messenger of Peace
“Kindred Beings is both an engrossing African adventure and an inspiring story of how an animal activist has devoted her life to chimpanzees. This fascinating book will forever change how you see chimpanzees—and how you feel about the importance of safeguarding their places on our planet.”
—Dr. Marty Becker, “America’s Veterinarian”
“Sheri Speede chose to make a difference in the lives of Jacky, Nama, Dorothy, and dozens of other apes, and her ability to restore their shattered worlds says as much about Sheri’s commitment as the chimpanzees’ inner strength. Sheri battled ignorance and apathy and evil, yet ultimately emerged triumphant, perhaps for one simple reason: humanity is not restricted to human beings.”
—Douglas Cress, program coordinator of Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP)
“In Cameroon, Dr. Sheri Speede has enabled law enforcement to fight wildlife trafficking by establishing an excellent forest sanctuary where rescued chimpanzees get care and love. Without facilities like hers, animals would suffer lives of abuse or move on into the sordid international trade. Read this book, meet the fascinating chimpanzees, and you’ll wish that this remarkable woman could be cloned!”—Dr. Shirley McGreal, founder of the International Primate Protection League
“Sheri Speede’s powerful story shows the reader the broad range of personalities seen in chimpanzees, which are remarkably similar to humans, with complex emotional needs, a rich social fabric, and self-awareness. The lesson offered by this book has importance for all earth’s animals. It removes veils of denial, it opens our eyes to the reality that all animals have emotions and experience joy as well as suffering, and it pleads for an end to animal abuse.”
—Marilyn Kroplick, M.D., president of In Defense of Animals