Because They Needed Me -
By Michael Blumenthal and Rita Miljo
In 1980, a 50-year old animal-obsessed Lithuanian-born woman, and former member of the Hitler Youth, by the name of Rita Neumann-- later to become Rita Miljo-- spirited a battered young baboon by the name of Bobby from a national park in Angola. Therewith began a thirty-year odyssey that would bring her into conflict not only with many of her neighboring South Africans, who considered baboons to be "vermin," but also with the South African authorities themselves.
Much like the work of Jane Goodall with chimpanzees in Tanzania, Dian Fossey with gorillas in Rwanda, and Biruté Galdikas with the orangutans of Borneo -- but without a background as a scientific researcher -- Rita Miljo began her rehabilitation centre C.A.R.E. to nurse orphaned and injured baboons back to health, at the same time pioneering methods of reintroducing troops of convalesced baboons back into their natural habitat.
In May of 2007, Rita encountered a German-Jewish American poet and novelist, and the New Jersey-born son of Holocaust refugees, Michael Blumenthal, who had come to volunteer at the Foundation, and, with that, a rare and unusual friendship, which led to this unique and remarkable collaboration, was born. Combining thirty years' worth of Rita Miljo's edited journals -- which, for the first and only time in her life, she entrusted to another -- with Michael Blumenthal's own impassioned and insightful portrayal of Rita and her baboons, "Because They Needed Me" is a chronicle of primate conservation and the intrepid and courageous woman who devoted her life to it.....
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