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Friday, April 9, 1999 Published at 10:11 GMT 11:11 UK


Saving Trudy

At Monkey World Trudy can lead a free and happy life

The rehabilitation of Trudy - the baby chimp battered by the circus trainer Mary Chipperfield - is the subject of a BBC TV QED special. BBC News Online looks at the story it has to tell.

Traumatic pictures of Trudy the chimp being battered and kicked made even those indifferent to animal welfare shudder.

[ image: Alison and Jim Cronin: Saving chimps is their life]
Alison and Jim Cronin: Saving chimps is their life
Now, Trudy is well on the road to recovery, celebrating her third birthday with those who have helped her at the primate sanctuary Monkey World on the edge of the New Forest.

Her tormentor was the famous circus trainer Mary Chipperfield who, until Trudy was confiscated, held the baby chimp in captive misery at her Hampshire farm.

She was found guilty of cruelty to animals and on Thursday was heavily fined for the crimes.

Trudy's future home has still to be decided

Whatever the decision, sanctuary directors Jim and Alison Cronin, say more has to be done to save other chimps from the same ordeal.

"The really sad thing about all this is that very little of what happened to Trudy was actually illegal - and it could be happening to other animals all over the country. We want to see the law changed to protect animals like Trudy," says Mr Cronin.

Mistreatment of monkeys is a global problem and over the last 12 years, the husband and wife team have taken in and rehabilitated more than 50 abused and disturbed chimps from around the world.

But despite their experience, they had never seen a chimp as traumatised as Trudy.

Painstaking process

At such a young age, Trudy should have been active and inquisitive. Instead, she was lifeless and limp. Tips of some of her fingers were missing and she had other injuries.

"Basically she had been cowed into submission and was used to thinking that if I do not move, I won't bring attention to myself and will not be hit," explains Alison.

[ image: Learning to eat]
Learning to eat
In her short life, Trudy had never known her mother. A desolate, unheated barn was where she spent her days alone.

Her diet consisted of broken biscuits and the remnants of rubbish bins.She was also beaten.

It is hardly surprising therefore that when the Cronins tried to introduce Trudy to other chimps she simply could not cope.

"She was terrified. She did not see herself as a chimp, did not know how to play and constantly ran to humans for comfort," says Alison.

Teaching Trudy to understand what she was and to enjoy life was a slow and difficult process.

Each day the time she spent with other chimps was increased. She was encouraged to play with the other babies and share their food.

After several months, Trudy was stable enough to share a bedroom, go outside and eat a normal chimp diet.

And though at first rejecting the attention, Trudy now allows herself to be loved by Peggy, one of Monkey World's resident foster mother chimps.

Tip of the iceberg

Although Trudy's plight was the most harrowing Alison and Jim had encountered, it is only one example of a worldwide problem.

The Cronins work with the governments of many countries to help stamp out the smuggling of chimps from central and western Africa.

[ image: Trudy and Peggy her adopted mother]
Trudy and Peggy her adopted mother
"Chimps are now an endangered species. But all over the world they are being used illegally by the film and entertainment industry, by photographers and as pets," says Alison.

However, when people realise just how difficult a grown chimp is to look after, the result is the kind of abuse that Monkey World has to put right.

As for Trudy, she still show signs of her experiences, such as rocking backwards and forwards when feeling stressed. But her prognosis is good.

"Trudy has a right to be with own kind and to be able to stay with her new family would be the best birthday present she could have," says Alison.

Saving Trudy: A QED Special can be seen on BBC1 on Monday 12 April at 19.30.

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