Saturday, March 15, 2008

Escape to Chimp Eden

We have a new favorite show, Escape to Chimp Eden on Animal Planet. It's on Friday nights at 9 pm and throughout the week at various times. Normally I'm not a big fan of heart-wrenching animal documentaries, but this show is different. It is an uplifting profile of the efforts of Eugene Cussons at the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden in South Africa. Cameras follow Eugene around Africa as he attempts to rescue abandoned, abused, and neglected chimps from unspeakable conditions. He brings them back to the sanctuaries at Chimp Eden, working to help them overcome their demons, assimmilate to a group (many of them have been alone, except for their human tormentors, all of their lives), and acquire survival skills with the ultimate goal of them being released to the wild.

This show is absolutely captivating. The diverse personalities of the chimps themselves are entertaining, as is watching Eugene work with them with a Crocodile Hunter-esque disregard for his own safety (imagine going into an electrified enclosure with a group of animals that could literally rip your arms off). Although it can be disturbing and downright brutal, the series' real message is one of hope. The show's only negative is its miniscule half-hour length. In a world of "reality" shows about everything under the sun, this one is breath of fresh air.

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