BBC America






New York – September 21, 2020 – BBC AMERICA will air the US premiere of Baby Chimp Rescue, Saturdays starting December 5th at 8/7c as part of Wonderstruck. The three-part series narrated by Gillian Burke (Blue Planet UK) and from executive producer Jo Shinner (Planet Earth: A Celebration) follows an American couple, Jenny and Jim Desmond, as they teach their 21 rescued baby chimps how to survive on their own.

A house full of baby chimps, and a heart full of love. Husband and wife Jenny and Jim Desmond are parents to an unusual and very large family – 21 orphaned baby chimpanzees. But their home in Liberia is rapidly becoming too small for this rambunctious troop of animals. Stretched to their limits, the Desmonds are building a sanctuary in the forest so their unconventional family can live as natural a life as possible. But before they can move out, these orphans need to learn how to live like wild chimps. Welcome to baby chimp school, where lessons are taught by Jim, Jenny, a team of local caregivers and chimp expert Ben Garrod. Star pupils include Max, the cheeky future alpha male who is easily distracted from lessons. Ella, the youngest, is a very fast learner. And Lucy, the cleverest, helps teach the others what to do. The series also highlights the work the Desmonds are doing with the wildlife authorities to rescue endangered chimps and teach the public that chimps are neither pets nor food. With the wild chimp population in free-fall, they’re in a race against time to change the way people see chimpanzees – before they disappear forever.


Baby Chimp Rescue premieres Saturday, December 5th at 8/7c as part of Wonderstruck on BBC AMERICA.

Jim Desmond                                    

Dr. Jimmy Desmond DVM, MS is a wildlife veterinarian specializing in emerging infectious diseases. He is a consultant with several international NGO’s including EcoHealth Alliance, Smithsonian Institution, Jane Goodall Institute, and the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA). ​Jimmy spent two years as Consulting Veterinarian and Deputy to the Director for The Humane Society of the United States in Liberia. He is Founder of both Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection in West Africa and Partners in Animal Welfare and Protection in the U.S.


Jenny Desmond        

Jenny Desmond, an animal welfare and conservation consultant, provides guidance and support in a variety of capacities to international private and not for profit organizations. Current clients include the Jane Goodall Institute, Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, Smithsonian Institute, EcoHealth Alliance and several global wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers. She is Founder of both Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection in West Africa and Partners in Animal Welfare and Protection in the U.S.


Ben Garrod   

Dr. Ben Garrod is an evolutionary biologist and expert primatologist, having spent the last decade working on great ape conservation projects across the globe, including several years in Uganda developing a chimpanzee conservation site for the Jane Goodall Institute. He is also an award-winning TV presenter, working with the BBC on a number of television programs including The Day the Dinosaurs Died, Secrets of Bones and Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur alongside Sir David Attenborough.


Executive Producer             

Jo Shinner

Jo Shinner has worked in the BBC Studios Natural History Unit since 2011. She most recently executive-produced BBCA’s Planet Earth: A Celebration, and BBC1 series Earth From Space, Animals Behaving Badly, Koko: the Gorilla who Talks To People, Nature’s Miracle Orphans, Animal Super Parents, Nature’s Greatest Dancers; as well as BBC2 series Animal Babies: First Year On Earth, Big Cats About The House, Nature’s Weirdest Events, and Earth’s Greatest Spectacles. Previous projects as Series Producer have included BBC1 series’ Super Smart Animals and Monkey Planet. Prior to joining the NHU, Jo worked at Tigress Productions, producing wildlife investigative drama reconstruction documentaries Nature Shock and Wild Channel Wild Case Files.



Gillian Burke

Gillian Burke joined the BBC’s much-loved Springwatch brand in 2018 alongside hosts Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan & Iolo Williams. She also recently presented the BBC’s Blue Planet UK with co-host Steve Brown. Having earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Bristol University, Gillian pursued a career in natural history filmmaking, working her way up the ranks from Researcher to Producer/Director on several Animal Planet and Discovery Channel series. Whether from the natural world or the human world, she is drawn to the rich vein of stories that are full of universal themes of awe and wonder, defeat and victory, struggle and survival. As a scientist, she is committed to tracking down and sharing evidence of hope. It’s why she defiantly remains an optimist (on most days).




Episode 101 – Miracles Can Happen

How do you cope when you suddenly become surrogate parents to 21 orphaned chimps? Jim and Jenny Desmond have chimps over-running their home and even their bed.

Premieres Saturday, December 5 at 8/7c


Episode 102 – Breaking Point

At a chimpanzee orphanage in Liberia, a deadly cold breaks out among the babies, and the arrival of an eight-week old infant and an adult male chimp brings new challenges.

Premieres Saturday, December 12 at 8/7c


Episode 103 – A New Beginning

At a chimpanzee orphanage in Liberia, the team reaches a breaking point now caring for 38 rescued baby chimps, and the orphans have their first taste of life in the forest.

Premieres Saturday, December 19 at 8/7c


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Screeners available on


About Wonderstruck:

Wonderstruck is BBC AMERICA’S weekly 24-hour Saturday destination for wildlife and wonder, showcasing BBCA’s most iconic landmark natural history programming including Planet Earth IIBlue Planet IIDynastiesSeven Worlds, One Planet and the return of the Emmy®-winning series Frozen Planet II and Planet Earth III.

To experience Wonderstruck at any time or day of the week, please visit, a free digital companion site featuring a robust library of short-form nature content, optimized for mobile or desktop. You can search by mood, animal or geographic location to access an immediate burst of wonder.



BBC AMERICA is a hub of innovative, culturally contagious programming including the Peabody Award-winning series Killing Eve starring Golden Globe® and SAG® Award-winner Sandra Oh and Emmy® Award-winner Jodie Comer. The network is the definitive television home and co-producer of the most iconic natural history series including Planet Earth IIBlue Planet IIDynastiesSeven Worlds, One Planet and upcoming Meerkat ManorEden (w/t)Frozen Planet II and Planet Earth III. BBCA transforms every Saturday into Wonderstruck, a weekly 24-hour destination for wildlife and wonder.  A joint venture between AMC Networks and BBC Studios (the commercial arm of the BBC), BBCA’s influential shows such as Doctor WhoOrphan Black, and Luther, have attracted critical acclaim and earned Emmy® Awards, Golden Globes®, Peabody Awards, Critics’ Choice Awards, NAACP Image Awards, TCA Awards and more. New programming coming this fall and winter includes Top GearAnimal BabiesThe Graham Norton ShowCripTalesDoctor Who: The Faceless Ones animated special, Baby Chimps Rescue, Doctor Who: Revolution of the DaleksThe Watch and more. BBCA is available across all platforms, including on-air, online, on demand and mobile. Find out more by visiting


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