Jim Cronin OBE
Campaigner against trade in primates
Born: 15 November, 1951.
Died: 17 March, 2007, in New York, aged 55.
JIM Cronin was a self-trained zoologist who built a wildlife park on a deserted pig farm in southern England, then roamed the world with his wife, Alison, to rescue illegally captured chimpanzees, orang-utans and other primates.
Cronin's work with his wife, who holds a doctorate in biological anthropology from Cambridge University, has been credited with focusing international attention on the smuggling of endangered species.
Monkey World, the 62-acre park in Dorset that Cronin opened and began to cover with shrubbery and trees in 1987, now draws about 500,000 visitors a year. It is regularly featured on Discovery Channel's series Monkey Business.
Nicholas Robinson, a professor of environmental law at Pace University, said that Cronin
"was taking the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species" - a United Nations treaty signed by most countries in 1973 - "along with national laws on wildlife and getting them enforced".
Although US citizens, the Cronins were last year awarded OBEs by the Queen for their services to animal welfare.
Starting in 1996, the Cronins made dozens of trips to Africa, south-east Asia and Turkey - posing as potential buyers, secretively taking photographs, recording addresses and then leading the local police in raids against animal smugglers. In 1998, for instance, they co-ordinated simultaneous raids on a pet shop and a street booth at a spice market in Istanbul where baby chimpanzees were being sold.
Two chimps that had had their teeth removed and been drugged were taken to wildlife sanctuaries in Turkey.
The Cronins have rescued animals from circuses, from laboratories and from use in TV advertisements.
As a child, Cronin was fascinated by wildlife, voraciously reading books and watching documentaries on the subject.
After leaving school, he eschewed university and instead travelled across the United States, taking odd jobs along the way. In the late 1970s, he took a job as a keeper at the Bronx Zoo.
His passion for the animals caught the attention of zoo officials and led to a recommendation that he be hired by John Aspinall, the director of the Howletts Zoo, in Kent, England. There, he began working with monkeys and gorillas.
In 1987, Cronin received a 25,000 business loan, guaranteed by the British government, and signed a lease for an abandoned pig farm in Dorset. One by one, he began constructing fenced, two-acre enclosures, filling them with climbing structures made from telephone poles, ropes, mats and fire hoses.
Soon after, he heard about baby chimps being used as photographers' props - drugged and dressed in costumes - along the beaches of Spain. Working with local animal activists, he approached Spanish authorities and agreed that if the police confiscated the animals, he would provide them with a refuge. Since then, 35 chimpanzees have been taken to Monkey World from Spain.
Monkey World is now home to 165 animals, including 59 chimps, 13 orang-utans and 18 gibbons as well as woolly monkeys, marmosets, lemurs and capuchin monkeys, and is a tourist attraction that doubles as an education in international wildlife law.
Mrs Cronin, who began working with her future husband in 1990, said they had co-operated with governments in 14 countries to stop the international trade in primates.
In 2003, she said, they went to Thailand, where they spotted 115 orang-utans in several parks. "Orang-utans only come from two islands, Borneo and Sumatra," she said. "Smugglers would kill the mothers, stuff the babies in baskets and then smuggle them out by small boats."
Within a week, the parks were raided and the animals distributed to sanctuaries in Borneo, where they may eventually be released into the wild.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his mother, a daughter, a sister and a brother.
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