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Monkey World News

Monkey World's gibbons rescue

Daily Echo

From the Echo, first published Tuesday 9th Jul 2002.

A DORSET animal welfare centre is helping to rescue gibbons from a reserve in Thailand, after the American founder of the sanctuary was shot dead.

Conservationist Bill Deters, a former US Air Force Officer who ran the centre with his wife Pharanee, was murdered in a raid in which four other people, including a three-year-old girl, were killed.

Now, the Monkey World ape rescue centre near Wareham is sending representatives to meet with officials in south-east Asia to see if they can offer any help to 36 gibbons that remain.

Jim Cronin, director of Monkey World, said: "At the moment we are sending money to Pharanee for expenses and giving her financial support for security.

"It is very dangerous in that area and we are hoping that the centre can be moved further inland to Chiang Mai in a safer location where tourists can visit, so it will become self-sustainable."

Staff from Monkey World had been working in south-east Asia with Taiwanese colleagues to put a stop to illegal smuggling of primates from the wild.

They heard about Mr Deter's project when a rare golden-cheeked gibbon appeared at his sanctuary after it was illegally brought into Thailand.

Jim said: "We went to see the sanctuary and we were amazed by its location and the number of extremely rare species of gibbons.

"It is such a beautiful place, you wake up every morning to the sound of gibbons singing.

"We found that Bill was funding the whole thing from his pension fund, which was an incredibly selfless thing to do.

"So we helped them out by building enclosures, providing staff and additional finance and we were looking forward to doing lots of work with them in the future."

Jim and his wife Dr Alison Cronin, who is the scientific director of Monkey World, will fly out to Thailand later this month to meet with Pharanee to look at the options available and it is possible that some of the gibbons could be relocated to Dorset.

Jim said: "We have the expertise and our commitment will be long-term until we find a solution, but we will know more when we come back."

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