Jim and Alison Cronin at Monkey World
Monkey World's Jim Cronin remembered
Conservationists across the world shocked at the sudden death of Monkey World's founder Jim Cronin in March 2007. His widow Dr Alison Cronin spoke to BBC Dorset about her mission to keep his dream alive at the county's ape rescue centre.
Jim Cronin's sudden death in March 2007 shocked conservationists around the world. But none more than his wife, Dr Alison Cronin.
Alison is now in sole charge of Monkey World, the ape rescue centre near Wareham. She spoke to BBC Dorset about her late husband's legacy and how she plans to fight on for monkeys suffering abuse and neglect.
Jim Cronin, founder of Monkey World
The early days
Monkey World houses 165 monkeys and apes but it wasn't always so big. It started as a small idea, sparked in Jim Cronin's mind as he worked as a keeper at a zoo in Kent.
"Jim has always been a very passionate person", says Alison. "That word would sum him up in one."
It was while he worked in Kent that he learnt about the plight of the chimpanzees being worked in Europe on the beach as photographers prop. He vowed to find a home for every single beach chimpanzee that was rescued.
Monkey World might have started out small, but the reception the couple received in Dorset was vital for the centre's survival. The level of local support was proven time and again, and allowed Jim to expand the park as he rescued more and more monkeys.
Protecting monkeys from abuse
Protecting primates from abuse and neglect was always Jim's driving force. That ranged from preventing abuses found in the pet industry in this country, to saving the victims of animal smugglers in South East Asia.
A few years ago, Jim and Alison discovered the largest smuggling operation of orangutans in the world. They posed as buyers, going in to the markets and collecting evidence which they presented to the Thai authorities.
Most of the monkeys they have saved have been repatriated to countries like Indonesia. But some come back to live at Monkey World in Dorset.
Alison's promise to Jim
Before Jim died, Alison promised to continue the work of Monkey World. She is looking forward to going to Chile this summer to bring back some capuchin monkeys.
Jim had been planning the trip before he died. Alison says that if this trip is successful, there will be another group of monkeys owing Jim their safety and protection.
Jim's impact and legacy
Royal Marine Jez Hermer is one of those rallying around Alison to see her through this difficult time. He befriended the couple when he tried to rescue a baby chimp in Africa.
Calling Monkey World on a satellite phone on a UN mission, he enlisted the help of Jim and Alison to nurture the chimp back to full health.
Jez says that Jim's lasting legacy is that he changed people's attitudes towards conservation.
last updated: 02/05/2008 at 11:35
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