In 1995 Dr. Sheri Speede sold her interest in a large veterinary practice in Portland, Oregon so she could commit her time to animal activism. As Northwest Director of In Defense of Animals, a non-profit organization based in Mill Valley, California, Dr. Speede advocated for companion animals, as well as victims of biomedical research, factory farms and circuses. In addition, she was able to provide veterinary care to animals in sanctuaries, including primates in Cameroon, Africa. Her two trips to Cameroon in 1997 soon changed the course of her life.
Since 1998 Dr. Speede has lived in Cameroon. With a mission to ensure that endangered chimpanzees survive in their natural habitats, she founded the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center and In Defense of Animals-Africa (IDA-Africa). At the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center, located in Cameroon’s Mbargue Forest, Dr. Speede and her staff currently provide sanctuary for 69 chimpanzees orphaned by the illegal ape meat trade. In collaboration with the government of Cameroon, she leads IDA-Africa in a public education, sensitization and social marketing campaign aimed at preventing the extinction of chimpanzees and gorillas.