Today, more than 60 once-captive chimpanzees are living in the wild on lushly forested islands in West Africa's Gambia River. Rescued from market traders or disenchanted owners, these chimpanzees were once destined for zoos, laboratories or to be destroyed. They survived because 20 years ago a young woman began adopting chimp orphans and created a program to return them to the wild.
Chimpanzees: Return to the Forest presents the remarkable history of Stella Brewer Marsden's ongoing rescue project, her arduous search for an area to release the chimpanzees, and her development of a reintroduction process to return these creatures to their natural habitat. Home movies and photos reveal Stella's childhood love for animals. Unique footage, captured by filmmaker Hugo van Lawick in 1976, help document the fledgling years of the project. Over time Stella has developed lasting bonds with multi-generations of chimps. She introduces many of them and tells the stories of their extraordinary journeys of rehabilitation and re-entry into their natural habitat.