Dr. Mel has been providing care for captive chimpanzees and other captive wildlife for more than 40 years, as a zookeeper, primate research technician and veterinarian.  In 1982 Dr. Mel earned his Doctor in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Georgia.  He has worked and consulted with zoos and wildlife parks in the USA, Africa, Colombia, Taiwan, and South Korea.  He was veterinarian for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project 1992-93 and was Project Director for the Projet Protection des Gorilles, a lowland gorilla orphanage in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, where he cared for orphaned gorillas and bonobos from 1995-1996.  Dr. Mel has cared for chimpanzees and other wild animals in almost every setting imaginable: zoos, performing acts, private owners, sanctuaries, and research.

Since 1997 Dr. Mel has been advocating for humane treatment of captive wild animals.  He is committed to relieving the suffering endured by captive chimpanzees and other captive wildlife.  In 2006-2007 he was the receiver’s veterinarian when the state placed Primarily Primates (PPI), a sanctuary in San Antonio, TX into receivership.   The Texas attorney general took control of the sanctuary in October 2006 after allegations that the facility was “unfit,” and that public donations had been misspent while the animals lived in substandard accommodation.   Dr. Mel is convinced that in order to protect all animals, we must provide them with legal standing.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest and serves on their Direct Care Committee, while actively working to eliminate the suffering endured by wild animals in captivity through medical records review, expert testimony, & public education.  Dr. Mel works with attorneys and animal welfare and rights groups.