Dave Du Toit, founder of The Vervet Monkey Foundation

Dave Du Toit—founder and co-director of the Vervet Monkey Foundation, a 57-acre sanctuary in South Africa dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of not just Vervet Monkeys, but other primates who’ve been orphaned, injured, abused, were used in lab testing, or former pets—provides an overview of Vervets and what traits distinguish them. He addresses how Vervet Monkeys are viewed in South Africa, including the antipathy toward them felt by a huge number of farmers. On a related note, Du Toit also analyzes the altered landscape, literally and figuratively, of farm in many parts of South Africa, and the various—sometimes polarizing—perspectives this topic has engendered. He outlines the reasons that baby Vervet Monkeys are orphaned (one reason: killed by farmers, angry the animals have touched their crops) and end up at their sanctuary, and details the protocol the Foundation employs in caring for those babies. As part of that discussion, Du Toit speaks to perhaps the most striking step in this process, in which unrelated adult Vervets become the foster mothers of these orphaned young monkeys. Some of this conversation is spawned by a documentary about the Foundation, called “The Vervet Forest,” that tracks the progress of some orphans from initial arrival at the sanctuary and being bottle fed and cared for round the clock as infants, to preparing them to be exposed to potential foster moms, to the successful completion of that process—but also features interviews with the heads of various organizations and other experts, sharing their views on such Foundation-related topics as farming, soil, habitat change, and more. Du Toit also spends some time discussing the Foundation’s significant volunteering program, which draws folks who travel internationally (including gap-year students) to help there, and sometimes find the experience so rewarding, Du Toit says, that they may end up staying six months, sometimes up to three years. (https://vervet.za.org, https://www.instagram.com/vervet_forest/)

ALSO: I spoke with Elana Kirshenbaum, who oversees the New Leaf Vegan Mentor Program, a newly launched matching service that pairs aspiring vegans with an experienced vegan mentor anywhere in the country (or internationally). Kirshenbaum explains that, like an online dating platform, New Leaf matches mentors with mentees after each completes a profile, and the mentor can help the mentee with questions or challenges that arise as the mentee travels down the path of becoming a new vegan. (https://www.newleafvegans.org)

COMEDY CORNER:  John Mulaney’s “Baby Grandma” (http://www.johnmulaney.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Elvis Presley’s “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear”

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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