KEITHVILLE, La (press release) – Dr. Raven Jackson-Jewett carried the childhood dream of wanting to be the” Black Jane Goodall” — a dream some might say came true when she became the head of the veterinary team tasked with caring for more than 300 chimpanzees at the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary.
Now that dream is reaching new heights as the words of Chimp Haven’s “Dr. J,” as she is known at the sanctuary, will be featured alongside Goodall’s in recently released book, Chimpanzee Memoirs: Stories of Studying and Saving Our Closest Living Relatives.
“My hope is that sharing a bit of my story will help people understand how and why the chimpanzee stole my heart and became the target of my veterinary career,” Jackson-Jewett said of her chapter in the book.
After years of hard work, in 2010 Jackson-Jewett landed her dream job as attending veterinarian and director of veterinary care at Chimp Haven, and in 2020 she became a visible mentor for young Black girls and people of color as a lead participant in ‘Meet the Chimps,’ a National Geographic Chimp Haven docu-series on Disney +.
“My hope is that through my literary contributions readers recognize how chimpanzees were destined to be a part of my life’s story and have played an influential role in making me into the woman that I am today,” Jackson-Jewett said. “The intermingling of our life experiences proves that dreams do come true!”
Chimpanzee Memoirs features powerful, personal stories from a range of chimpanzee experts. In addition to Jackson-Jewett and Goodall, other featured contributors include world-renowned primatologist, and member of Chimp Haven’s board of trustees, Dr. Frans de Waal, as well as anthropologists, biologists, psychologists, conservationists and other field scientists from across the globe working to protect chimpanzees in the wild and in accredited sanctuaries or zoos.
“My chapter contributions are focused on various encounters with chimpanzees along my personal journey as a chimpanzee veterinarian-some of which highlights fun, heartfelt stories from our present and past residents at Chimp Haven,” said Jackson-Jewett.
In addition, Dr. Jackson-Jewett even shares how she treated chimpanzees who previously were infected with viruses as part of biomedical HIV/AIDS research. With innovation in hand, Dr. Jackson-Jewett gave a former research chimp at Chimp Haven an antiretroviral therapy that served as an effective therapeutic intervention. Dr. Jackson-Jewett’s patients are the only known chimpanzees in the world to have received this therapy, which helped them thrive for years at Chimp Haven.
Chimpanzee Memoir was released this May by Columbia University Press. To read Dr. Jackson-Jewett’s chapter and see how she went from meeting her first chimpanzee in a New York elevator at a young age to being the only known veterinarian in the world to use antiretroviral therapy with a chimpanzee, please visit chimphaven.org/memoirs.