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Friday, July 19, 2013

Suggested Reading: Thirteen Gold Monkeys

I will be forgoing "Activism Spotlight" today. I'm busy preparing for my departure to Texas tomorrow!
Suggested Reading
 Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at zoos and conservation programs? Have you ever heard about the release of captive animals into the wild, and wondered how it was done? Is wildlife conservation important to you? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you need to get your hands on a copy of Benjamin Beck’s Thirteen Gold Monkeys.

    Beck was a part of the first ever expedition to reintroduce zoo born golden lion tamarins from the United States into the wild coastal rainforests of Brazil. Between 1983 and 2005, Beck helped coordinate the release of 149 zoo born golden lion tamarins into the wild. Thirteen Gold Monkeys is the fictionalized account of Beck’s adventures with the first two of these reintroductions, in which the reader sees both the humans’ and the monkeys’ points of view. In the story, Beck gives us rare glimpses of what it takes to organize and run a zoo, the infinitely complicated process of preparing zoo animals for the wild, and the scientists’ and caretakers’ emotional entanglement with the animals they are responsible for.

    Back in May, when the golden lion tamarin was the Animal of the Month on Viridorari, I got in contact with Save the Golden Lion Tamarin and asked if I could volunteer my time as a writer to the organization. My first assignment was to write a book review of Thirteen Gold Monkeys, which not only teaches people the importance of wildlife conservation, but raises money for Save the Golden Lion Tamarin (part of proceeds of each book purchase are donated). I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Beck, his wife (who was also a part of the expeditions), and a close friend of his today. As if the evidence wasn’t obvious enough in the book, talking to Beck and his wife, Beate Rettberg-Beck, assured me that they care deeply about animals and the fight against extinction. Their friend, Welden, happened to be a farmer, and we had a few conversations about the importance of farming and the issues agriculture faces today. It was quite possibly the most interesting and intriguing breakfast I ever had.
From left to right: Welden, me, Ben, and Beate

    When I read Thirteen Gold Monkeys in order to write the book review, I was absolutely absorbed in Beck’s story. I recommend this book to anyone, especially those of you who have a soft spot for animals and the environment. Remember, when you buy your copy, some of your money will be directly supporting golden lion tamarin conservation.

Here's a link to my book review:

    Happy reading!

Source: Thirteen Gold Monkeys by Benjamin Beck
Animal of the Month Update

 Mount Karisimbi, one of the six Virunga volcanoes that mountain gorillas live on
Picture courtesy of:

While their natural habitat is mountainous, as implied by their name, the gorillas rarely climb above 13,000 feet. They also tend to avoid the low meadows between the dormant volcano slopes they inhabit.

    The greatest threat mountain gorillas face is human encroachment on their natural habitat. However, a growing concern is genetic diversity. Gorillas reproduce very slowly, with females reaching sexual maturity at ten years old and males becoming sexually active at fifteen years old. Only fifty percent of offspring survive their first year. Due to a small population and slow breeding, genetic issues with inbreeding has become a problem.

    To learn how to help mountain gorilla conservation, check out Wednesday’s post, which also features a Guest Writer!

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