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Kindred Beings: What Seventy-Three Chimpanzees Taught Me About Life, Love, and Connection Hardcover – September 10, 2013

4.9 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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, which says as much about Sheri’s commitment as the chimpanzees’ inner strength. Sheri 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 in the sordid international trade. Read this book! (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, with complex emotional needs, a rich social fabric, and self-awareness. It opens our eyes to the reality that all animals have emotions, and it pleads for an end to animal abuse. (Marilyn Kroplick, M.D., president of IDA-Africa)

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (September 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062132482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062132482
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,208,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Steadman on October 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I would suggest that this book be re-titled "Mission Impossible"! Having worked at a small sanctuary for chimpanzees in Central Africa for just a few months, I can attest to the enormity of the task undertaken by the author in a part of the world where accomplishing a simple task is a difficult challenge. Creating a sanctuary "from scratch" in a desperately under-developed country while battling poverty-driven corruption, crime, disease and ignorance at every turn, is surely a project of great magnitude.
Using every ounce of her energy and wits, Dr. Speede somehow managed to surmount the many obstacles in her path..including a lack of building materials, adequate roads, skilled labor..not to mention the inevitable culture clashes that often made her unpopular with the locals, to say the least!
Armed with few resources other than her strong will and sheer determination to rescue five captive chimps cruelly kept as 'tourist attractions', the author had to dig deep into her soul to find the strength and means to succeed. Over the course of those first bumpy years, she managed to build trusting relationships with local leaders which provided an essential support team for the sanctuary benefiting both the chimps and the villagers as well.
Clearly, Sheri Speede is one of Margaret Mead's "thoughtful, committed citizens (who) can change the world". Read this book now and be filled with inspiration!
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Format: Hardcover
Sheri Speede founded the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center in Cameroon as a home for orphans of the illegal ape meat trade. This is the story of how one little girl who loved animals found her true calling in a forest sanctuary in Africa as a committed animal activist and rescuer. It's an adventure story, because after all she was a stranger in a foreign culture trying to adjust to African village life--and it's a love story, because through the chimps she helped rescue she came to understand the meaning of love, loyalty, and true connection.

As a child who knew that she always wanted to grow up and advocate for animals in some way, she took the traditional path at first by choosing a veterinary career. But soon after beginning her veterinary career she was moved by the plight of three adult captive chimpanzees on display in three small cages located on the back side of the Atlantic Beach Hotel. Captured as infants by poachers they had been in captivity most of their lives. Her sadness at the smallness of their lives haunted her and she was determined to see them released from their torment.

Though it took her some time to actually fulfill the promise she made to them to free them, she was eventually successful and established her sanctuary in the Mbargue forest. In this book, we see the development of Dr. Speede's personal story alongside the emotionally complex stories of the chimps she befriended. We come to know and love these "kindred beings" just as she does. When one of the rescued chimps (Dorothy) dies from old age at the sanctuary, we mourn too. The photograph of Dorothy's funeral (in which Dr. Speede cradled Dorothy's head while her family of chimpanzees mournfully viewed her body) went viral after being published in National Geographic.
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I loved this book. I loved the incredible tale of enviable determination I was shown in Sheri Speede. Once she came to know the true pain and suffering of her fellow beings, these chimps who are apes like us only different, that cannot speak or tell their pain, rage and frustration, she felt it, and unlike any who had encountered the first of the chimps, for whom Sanaga-Yong was founded, she was the first to feel it enough to do something about it, because she loved them. And that is a powerful part of this story, the unfolding of Sanaga-Yong Sanctuary is a lesson in how the power of love can and does change the universe, one small part at a time. Things happened I thought at times, because Sheri Speede would simply not let the universe unfold any other way! I don't know if anybody but Sheri and the chimps knew how important that was. More than once the book made me feel "this was meant to be"; so much that went before in her life prepared her, made her better able to do the job, and then, others of like caliber joined in, the energy grew and sustained itself, as more chimps so desperately needed a safe haven. Yes, this is a unique book, it has its own quality and timbre, it gives us so much, the experience of Africa, the people who help the sanctuary, and the unforgettable chimps, those amazing beings.
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Oh my. All I can say is please read this book. It will change you — for the better. : ) Sheri Speede took the brave step to create a chimpanzee sanctuary for chimpanzees who were suffering as "entertainment" or "attractions" for hotels and businesses seeking tourist trade in Africa. Dr. Speede sanctuary is called the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center and it is located in Cameroon, Africa. She is also the founder of In Defense of Animals-Africa (IDA-Africa) as the U.S. base of support for the work in Cameroon. Currently, splitting her time between Cameroon and the United States, she serves as Director of IDA-Africa and Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center.

The poor chimpanzees whose lives were saved by Sheri spent their lives suffering, chained and/or confined and neglected in small cages until Sheri gave them a second chance at life. At the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center, these chimpanzees now have the opportunity to be chimpanzees again, to live in social groups, have friends, make choices, and share in the joy of friendship and family. Sheri's story about funding, establishing, and keeping her sanctuary up and running is extraordinary! You will fall deeply in love with these great apes who find HOME in her sanctuary, especially the beautiful, beloved sweet old Dorothy.

I can't say it better than this review: "Sheri Speede’s powerful story shows the reader the broad range of personalities seen in chimpanzees, with complex emotional needs, a rich social fabric, and self-awareness. It opens our eyes to the reality that all animals have emotions, and it pleads for an end to animal abuse." (Marilyn Kroplick, M.D., president of IDA-Africa)

Please read this touching story. You will not be disappointed!
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