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Escape to Chimp Eden is a unique take on the animal world for modern television viewers. Unlike many animal shows that are shot in the African continent, Escape from Chimp Eden has one primary focus, the remaining species of chimpanzees on Earth today. The series is easily the most daring project that the Animal Planet network on cable has attempted. For several years, the show's only human star, Eugene Cussons has been broadcasting amazing film footage about his working rescuing chimpanzees that are hurt, injured, abused, and victims of other human violence. Cussons is the South African director of Chimp Eden, an extension of the Jane Goodall Institute and the only independent sanctuary for these creatures anywhere.

Escape from Chimp Eden is produced by two companies for Animal Planet, namely Triosphere and Creative Differences. This has led to a list of five different executive producers for the cable show, which maybe the main downfall of the program. Still it is unlikely that anything would be seen as bad press from Eugene Cussons and his worldwide cause. With only 150,000 chimps left on the planet today, every single rescue is a step in the direction of saving them from extinction.

Many of the animals are being liberated from captivity, but the show engages that harsh reality of other problems for modern chimpanzees. Issues in the last seasons have been hunting and poaching of chimps for meat, treatment of their species in zoos, the shrinking of the natural habitat, and the effect global environmental change is having on nearly all life on Earth.

Escape from Chimp Eden is not easy to watch sometimes, for the neglect and treatment of these last chimpanzees if cruel. It does show the work of one very dedicated and unsung hero for animal rights today. People of all walks and types of animal rescue work watch the show like gospel. For in it they see both a kindred spirit and a soul who fights one of the most important battles in the animal kingdom.

Eugene Cussons, Animal Planet, and Escape from Chimp Eden should be seen by everyone, not just activists for non-humans. The show is educational, heartwarming, and worthy of watching for individuals everywhere, so give chimps a chance.

Escape to Chimp Eden is a Nature, Documentary & Biography series that is currently running and has 2 seasons (32 episodes). The series first aired on February 8, 2008. It has mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.9.

Escape to Chimp Eden is available for streaming on the Animal Planet website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Escape to Chimp Eden on demand at Hulu, Animal Planet online.

Friday 9:30 PM et/pt on Animal Planet
2 Seasons, 32 Episodes
February 8, 2008
Nature, Documentary & Biography
Cast: Eugene Cussons
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Escape to Chimp Eden Full Episode Guide

  • With his eye on returning chimps to the wild, Eugene travels to the Lekedi Reserve in the Central African country of Gabon. This is prime chimp habitat, the place where he hopes to create a "launch into the wild" camp to prepare his chimps for the future

  • Eugene's hands on work with the new family group begins in earnest. In many ways, he is as much a chimp as the newcomers, who have only known captivity.

  • The new family is released into the empty infant enclosure after leaving quarantine. It is the day in which Eugene has been looking forward to since Jao rejected him several months earlier. But his excitement is tempered with worry with the chance of working "hands on" again. Once the new group has experienced the freedom of the enclosure, they may reject him as well.

  • Joa's family is transferred to the old adult enclosure, where there is more room and more chances to make trouble. But what will their reaction be to the new surroundings? Will Cozi feel unsettled and start to regress? How will this affect the group dynamics? Will Zac take the chance at unseating Jao, once and for all?

  • As the adult group settles into their new home, Eugene and Phillip celebrate the success of the move. Then, a seemingly minor dust up between Josephine and Jinga (as they are put in for the night) apparently sparks a major drama.

  • The adult group is becoming more like wild chimps every day, so after months of preparation it's time to move them to a bigger, less controlled enclosure.

  • Gida has struggled for her place hierarchy since Abu died, and that two females have been introduced to the group.

  • Nicky and Claudette are reunited.

  • The alpha female, Martha, of the group is responsible for the success of a new family group at Chimp Eden. Hopefully she will accept Eugene as one of the family so that he can join the other chimps in the outdoor enclosure.

  • Last year Eugene was forced to leave two of the babies behind in the Sudan. This time he is determined to save them all.

  • Eugene heads back to the Sudan for his biggest rescue yet. This time he has seven young chimps awaiting a rescue.

  • Zac, the number 2 male, challenges Jao for the leadership in the family. This showdown was bound to happen someday.

  • Josephine makes a break from the adult closure, and takes refuge inside the volunteers break room.

  • The chimps transfer is impeded by a series of events while moving from Angola to the sanctuary in South Africa.

  • A pair of young female chimps in Angola are rescued, where one was found locked in a cage at a beach resort exposed to disease from the tourists.

  • The addition of two baby chimps into the infant enclosure raises concerns.

  • Despite the confusion over the death of Apu, the alpha male and the ascension of Amadeus as the new alpha male, Josephine's integration in the group continues.

  • A 13 year old aggressive chimp is hindering her integration into the adult area, and a sudden tragedy is felt all over the camp.

  • The season 2 opener finds two chimps being sedated for their move out of quarantine, but one of the chimps is having a bad reaction to the medication used.

  • Eugene begins work with a new family group, an assignment which can be dangerous, but if successful it will mean a new phase towards the rehabilitation of the chimps.

  • The five baby chimps in which Eugene found in the Sudan have now completed their quarantine period and can be brought to the infant enclosure along with the other young chimps.

  • Cozi proves to be an unpredictable and possibly dangerous chimpanzee.

  • Eugene is greeted by seven baby chimps on his return to the Sudan safe house, and is told his plane is arriving the next day, forcing him to choose which chimps will go and which will remain behind.

  • Five orphaned chimps are rescued from the Sudan by Eugene, who's wife is seven months pregnant, only to find out there is now seven babies to bring back. Sadly, his visa will only allow five to return with him and now must figure which two to leave behind.

  • A confrontation with the three male and female chimps that already exist in the adult closure has the handlers wondering whether they should leave Jinga inside there.

  • Eugene needs to make sure that Zac and Jinga are actually true bonobos, and if so then he needs to ship them off to a different sanctuary.

  • Three male chimpanzees unfamiliar with females, share their space with Mimi, Lika and Gida, who just became free for the first time.

  • An aggressive 4-year old female named Xena threatens her relationship with her mate Joa, and compromises his path to the baby enclosure.

  • Eugene takes his life in his hands to go into Chimp Eden's kindergarten, which is where all the baby chimps are placed in the custody of 43-yr old Jao. He acts like a grandfather to the babies but is potentially dangerous when Eugene enters the enclosure.

  • Two young chimps forced to leave Angola are given blood tests. Also, a look at the life at the sanctuary.

  • Eugene is racing time while awaiting for the owner of a chimp named Josephine to claim her before being put down in Angola. Meanwhile, he rescues two baby chimps that are discovered in appalling conditions.