Saturday, June 25, 2011

Take Five with Izzy Hirji

Every day brings new joys, experiences and memories in the barn.  As the seasons change, so do the monkeys' lives.  Spring brings longer days, summer - sun, warmth, breezes, flowers, more choices and happier times.  The monkeys have been enjoying fresh daisies, grasses and watching the Canadian Geese families down by the pond.  The goats, horses, Chili (the llama) and Minnie (the donkey) are out in the fields, happily munching on new greenery.  The volunteers are a constant, always there to help - power washing the barn, sorting through the worm farm for the marmosets, building relationships, making enrichment and daily thinking of ways to help out.

Today, we want to introduce Izzy Hirji - a remarkable young man who has done so much for primates and great apes locally and abroad.  Izzy just finished his first year at the Ontario Vet College and dreams of one day working with gorillas - which we are all confident he will do!  Izzy came to us by way of the Jane Goodall Institute, as he is a member of the Youth Council.  We are so fortunate to have Izzy with us, as he is our social media guru, graphic designer and a great advocate, and bringing others to volunteer, including a new SBFPS friend - Sepideh!

Q - How did hear about SBFPS and how did you get involved?
A - I was invited to a build day in 2007 to expand the barn and better accommodate the residents. What a wonderful experience! Meeting the warm and welcoming volunteers was phenomenal, and meeting the monkeys was even better!

Q - Who is your favourite resident and why?
A - It's so hard to choose - they all have such amazing stories and personalities! George gets bonus points for sharing his life story (via hoops and hollers) with me every time I'm within viewing range, but I may have to go with Pockets. An endearing and charming yet very clever and deceptive little guy! He always wants to play with me and he giggles at my antics, but then he'll play the 'stupid human' game and try and grab me when I think he's being nice. Funny guy! Gotta love blowing bubbles and playing ball with him - he's never short of great entertainment!

Q - What has been a highlight for you at the farm?
A - I'm going to go with the day that Chelsea came over to the door and groomed my arm through the bars. She had warmed up enough to trust me, and the bond that was created was beyond explanation. To reach out and connect with an animal on such a level, especially when you share some degree of understanding, is one of the most amazing experiences a person can have. 

Q - What tips and advice would you share with others who want to get involved and help primates?
A - Do lots of research! Find out all about primate behaviour (so you know what to expect), primates in the wild and in captivity, their plight etc. Develop your passion by reading books that stimulate you on this topic: I have a whole list I can share for anyone interested. Research places you can get involved with helping primates, either indirectly or hands-on: such as at sanctuaries like this or wildlife rehabilitation centres and reserves abroad - the Jane Goodall Institute is a good place to start looking! Why not begin by donating to or volunteering with SBFPS? And finally, get those experiences and find out what you enjoy the most - whether as a career or as a volunteer and committed citizen, keep doing them! The primates need all the help they can get :)

Izzy, Thanks for all that you do!

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