Gorilla Doctors Directors Drs. Mike Cranfield & Kirsten Gilardi gave a presentation at Western University in London, Ontario last Thursday and were honored to introduce renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall. The event, presented by Docs4GreatApes and hosted by the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, was attended by over 2,000 people and raised funds for clinics around the national parks in Rwanda. 

Dr. Mike Cranfield, Dr. Jane Goodall, and Dr. Kirsten Gilardi at Western University in London, Ontario.

Adela Talbot, a journalist for Western University who attended the talk documented Dr. Goodall’s poignant views: “‘The smartest creature on earth seems intent on destroying the planet on which it lives’ [Goodall] explained, noting conservation of chimpanzees is not the only concern. Intensive farming, depletion of resources, extreme poverty caused by lives of extreme luxury, in addition to humankind’s general continued mistreatment of all animals are detrimental to us all. ‘There’s a disconnect between the human brain and the human heart. A life lived with compassion for animals and the planet is the answer to all the world’s problems.’” 

Dr. Jane Goodal speaks at Western University on London, Ontario.

The Jane Goodall Institute administers a large grant from the Arcus Foundation to implement the Conservation Action Plan for great apes in the Eastern Graueri Landscape (i.e. in eastern DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda). Gorilla Doctors role within the Action Plan, according to Co-Director Dr. Kirsten Gilardi “is to provide life-saving veterinary care to ill and injured Grauer’s and mountain gorillas as well as to confiscated poached great apes, train and equip ICCN rangers to conduct daily health monitoring of habituated gorillas, collate daily observations in a centralized system (IMPACT) and provide educational information on great ape tourism recommendations and hygiene.”

Gorilla Doctors has also received support from the nonprofit Docs4GreatApes, founded by veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Rick Quinn, who is an adjunct professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at Western University. Docs4GreatApes shares our focus on One Health, and is working towards their vision of “a world community that is passionate about improving the health of Great Ape populations, the communities that surround them, and the ecosystem that we share.”

Dr. Quinn visited the Gorilla Doctors in Rwanda and Uganda in March 2012, sharing his knowledge and expertise in ophthalmology with our veterinarians in Rwanda and students at Makerere University in Uganda. Dr. Quinn and his colleague, fellow veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. David Ramsey, arranged a generous donation of ophthalmic examination equipment through medical equipment manufacturer Welch Allyn.

Dr. Rick Quinn speaks to Gorilla Doctors veterinarians at our Headquarters in Musanze, Rwanda.

Dr. Rick Quinn trains Dr. Noel on ophthalmic exam equipment while Drs. Fred and Jacques look on.

Docs4GreatApes is developing a partnership with nursing and medical faculty at Western University to provide Continuous Professional Development for the healthcare providers at the village level that is also home to the endangered mountain gorillas. “There is a responsibility to use my professional connections to bring about change,” explained Dr. Quinn. “I’m uniquely placed to get two respectable professions to pitch in together.”

The Gorilla Doctors team would like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr. Quinn for his support of our work, both in veterinary medicine and boosting the health of the human and wildlife populations living in close proximity to our critically endangered patients.

For more about the collaboration between Gorilla Doctors and Docs4GreatApes, check out this CBC Radio Report interview with Drs. Mike Cranfield and Rick Quinn.