Want a chimp for a pet? 10 years old Brandon says you better make one smile!
As most 10 years old boys, Brandon has a great love for animals, but not in the way you would expect. He is passionate about saving his favorites — our closest cousins among the Great Apes — from captivity!
Back in 2009, Brandon decided he wanted a chimp as a pet. Being curios if that is possible, he decided to research and learn more about these amazing animals, but what he found out caused a change of heart — instead of getting one as a pet, he decided he wanted to help save those held in captivity!
Since then, Brandon has been successfully raising awareness about the bad conditions in which chimps held in captivity for biomedical and other research live. He continually raises money to organize adoptions and transfer for such chimps to the Save the Chimps Sanctuary using his Make a Chimp Smile blog.
Brandon recently spoke at the TEDxYouth@TampaBay conference organized on Universal Children’s Day on November 20, 2010 (see video below) and is actively engaged with people and organizations that are interested in helping these endangered species!
We asked Brandon to answer several questions for World4Children and he sent us back the answers below. We believe they show the curiosity of a young child wishing to engage in this world at an early age and speak to his passion for helping animals and giving to the community. Enjoy!
Do you have a personal hero? (could be a fictional character or even a great ape!) What do you like about them?
My mom because she is always there for me and helps me when I need it.
The first question you get from adults (besides age) when they learn what you’re doing is?
How did you get started and what inspired you?
How did you come up with the idea to use your blog and help migrate chimps to Save the Chimps instead?
I learned that it wasnt good to have a chimp as a pet so then I thought well if I couldn’t have one maybe I could help one. Then I made the blog “Make a Chimp Smile” so I could let people know I was fundraising for them.
Who helped you the most to pursue your dream?
My mom and lots of people that follow my blog that love chimps and all great apes and animals. They help me speak out for great apes in labs and help the chimps by donating through my blog.
You must have hit the wall few times when trying to engage with or get support from adults?! Lessons learned?
I learned that not everybody knows what these great apes are going through. Most people didn’t know that chimpanzees have been in labs and suffering. but lots of people after they learned they wanted to help.
It is clear how you want to change the world, but how about your local community? Any wishes you’d like the kids and adults in your community to help you implement?
Well I would like more people to learn about what is happening to the great apes. Because I think if they knew they would want to help too.
Being ten, you probably spend a lot of time with other kids playing games and just being a kid?! Favorite activities/games?
I like riding my bike and being out with my friends. I also like to play basketball and tag
If you could inspire more kids to engage at young age and start making a change, what kind of advice would you give them?
To always be proud of what you are doing and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Also that not everyone is going to believe in what you do but don’t give up because maybe they don’t know about your cause or ever thought about what is going on.
Your message to the adults?
Well I would like to thank everyone who is helping the great apes and also ask everyone to write their senators and ask them to to support the Great Ape Protection Act (H.R. 1326, S. 3694)
As usual, we’re interested in getting the parents’ perspective, so we interviewed Brandon’s mom, Deanna, about her experience helping Brandon follow his passion.
Did it come as a surprise to you to learn that your son was passionate enough about animals to get engaged in saving them at such young age?
Brandon has always loved all animals but I was surprised that he became so committed and focused helping chimpanzees.
What kind of support did he get from his school and other adults?
Brandon has gotten tremendous support from adults who also support great apes as well as animal welfare groups and others concerned with the environment. Although his school hasn’t given him much support he did have a few teachers that commended him on his efforts.
Most frustrating experience you’d like to share?
I really don’t have any frustrating moments. Brandon likes to think big and I do sometimes worry that he picks goals that may be unattainable in the timeframe that he might anticipate. But really no frustrating moments come to mind.
How about positive surprises?
I have to say it has been such a joy to watch Brandon grow and become such a compassionate and giving person. Although I’m sure he has always had this in him, it has been wonderful to witness and share in his passion for the great apes.
You hope the world in 2025 offers your son to….?
I can only hope that Brandon is in a place in his life where he is happy, loving life and following his passions and dreams.
We wish Brandon great success in saving as many chimps as possible and hope he inspired you with his efforts to start following your passion and engage in a worthy cause like his!
And if you’re a teacher reading about Brandon’s school missing the opportunity to provide support or get involved, please pay attention to your students’ dreams! You may have the next Craig Kielburger in your class and you won’t know!