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Home / Articles / Features / Feature Articles /  Veg Fests, Then and Now
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Saturday, June 2,2018

Veg Fests, Then and Now

Animal Hero Teen Helps Chimp to Sanctuary

By Susan Hargreaves Author-Activist-Educator of  

Animal Hero Teen featured in the Animal Hero Kids book meets his hero Jane Goodall

I went to my first veg festival in 1985 in Toronto; it was so great being around like-minded folks, all 100 of them. Yes, there was a time when I went to VegFests and knew each and every individual there. Fast forward to now, talk about Happy Herald-worthy news: Thousands and thousands of folks come out to sample vegan fare and be inspired. Last weekend I spoke at the Palm Beach VegFest, Lovey and Ronnie V Cow (really it was Sean Russell volunteering) came with me and I met entire families of vegans, and knew only a handful of the attendees. Vegan families enjoyed hearing the stories from my book “Animal Hero Kids Voices for the Voiceless” book at Palm Beach VegFest. (Happy Healthy Food Factory was one of the sponsors.)

Did you watch the recent screening of the new Jane Goodall documentary called “Jane?” How beautiful it was seeing the early footage of this compassionate icon reaching out to other primates. She is a true hero. It has been my pleasure to be on the same radio show about captive wildlife with Jane Goodall, and meet her on numerous occasions; she was even kind enough to write a letter of recommendation for my humane education work many years ago.

Here’s an interview I did with 14-yearold Brandon.

Susan: What first started you on the path to help chimps?

Brandon: When I was nine, I really wanted to have a chimp as a pet, but after doing research I learn how wrong it was to keep a chimpanzee as a pet. During my research I learned about Save the Chimps Sanctuary. They were rescuing chimpanzees from a lab in New Mexico and bringing them to the sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida. There was one chimp named Elway who is around my age and he was already at the Sanctuary, but his father whose name was Boy was still in New Mexico. I thought that maybe since I couldn’t have a chimp as a pet, maybe I could help one. This is when I started fundraising for Save the Chimps to help bring Boy to Florida.

Susan: Why is it so important to you?

Brandon: The more I learned about chimpanzees and other Great Apes and what they have gone through and how much they are like humans is amazing. I don’t think many people think or know about the suffering chimpanzees have gone through. Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives. They share the same emotions as we do and are like us in so many ways. Baby Chimps depend on their mothers, and chimpanzees need to live in family groups. It just isn’t right to use them in experiments, keep them as pets, or use them in entertainment.

Susan: What was the first thing you did when you realized you could actually make a difference?

Brandon: The first thing I did was start a blog with some help from my family. I wrote about the chimpanzees at Save the Chimps and asked people to help out with donations. People started to follow my blog and share it with others on the internet. I also started tabling at events to raise awareness and collect donations. I’ve had many petitions going over the past couple of years, and have written many letters to Congress and representatives. Now I have Facebook and Twitter where I can share information and make more people aware of the plight of the Great Apes.

Susan: What can other kids, teens, teachers, adults… okay, everyone do to help?

Brandon: They can all help to raise awareness of Great Apes in labs, of all they have gone through. They could have fundraisers to help a sanctuary. The chimpanzees and other Great Apes in sanctuaries need all kinds of things such as housing, veterinary care, fresh fruit, and nesting blankets.


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