Hello! My name is Jeremy Phan and I am a researcher and student at Ohio University. I got my undergraduate degree at Michigan State University in Zoology. Zoology is the study of animals and ever since I was little I wanted to work with animals. I first wanted to be a veterinarian, but then discovered I could study animals in the wild and help save them!
I have traveled to Uganda in Africa to study birds and primates and I even got to see a silverback Mountain Gorilla in the wild! It was really cool. I also worked in Vietnam at the Endangered Primate Rescue Center where I took care of some of the most endangered primates in the world.
I love traveling and meeting new people. I have traveled to many other places like China, Thailand, Spain, the Netherlands and Morocco. I also like to hangout with my friends and family. I have many pets that also keep me very busy when I am not studying or traveling the world.
We asked monkey man Jeremy to chat with us about animals in this exclusive interview!
So Jeremy who do you think would win the “Coolest Animal” award and why?
This is such a tough question! There are so many animals that could win this award for so many different reasons. I would have to say the Great Blue Whale because they are the largest animals that have ever lived on the earth. They are even larger than the biggest dinosaur! Not only are they the largest animals they eat some of the smallest living creatures, krill.
When you were a kid what did you dream of being when you grew up?
I always dreamed of working with animals. I wanted to be a veterinarian, but only because I didn’t know I could study some of the coolest animals in the world in their natural habitat!
Why did you decide to go to school for Environmental Studies?
My mentor helped me decide what to do when I finished my internship in Vietnam. Her name is Nancy Stevens and she is a professor at Ohio University. Environmental studies is a perfect program for me because I learn a lot about conserving the environment and how to use the earth so we can share it with all the animals.
What was the most amazing thing you saw when you were in Vietnam?
When I was kayaking around Cat Ba Island I actually got to see the Cat Ba Langur. They are the most endangered primates in the world! There are only around 70 of them left in wild and I felt so lucky to be able to see them.
What is one thing that kids like me should know about endangered primates?
Although we don’t have any endangered primates living in the wild here in North America, we can still have a large impact on their survival even if they are far away. The small impacts you can make on the environment around you and the choices you help your parents make on what to buy can have a BIG impact on these monkeys hundreds of miles away.
What would a day in the life of someone working at the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre be like?
The day of a worker at the endangered primate center starts early! Here is a schedule of what the day looks like:
The day starts with feeding and cleaning 4 different enclosures of monkeys. Each keeper has certain cages they are responsible for in the morning. Before the cages are cleaned the animals must be fed. Almost all the primates at the center were leaf eaters (folivores) which meant that we had to feed them freshly bundled leaves three times a day.
8:00am-9:00am Breakfast Break
The second part of the day is actually the coolest because during the dry season in Vietnam (which is also known as their winter) we get to feed the monkeys sweet potatoes because the leaves are not as healthy as during the wet season months. Feeding sweet potatoes is always fun if you get the cages with the friendly monkeys because they will come up to you and take them right from your hand! After sweet potatoes it is time for chores around the center. This could include fixing cages, cleaning around the outside of the cages, cutting and moving bamboo, cutting grass with long knives, or cleaning animal houses or burn leaves.
Then at around 11:00am we had to all meet up again and bundle leaves for the same cages of monkeys we took care of in the morning. When we are done feeding it is lunchtime for us!
11:30pm-1:15pm Lunch Break
The last part of the day starts out much like the second part. We first start with our chores. This is usually finishing up what we started earlier in the day such as cutting grass or fixing cages etc. We end the day at the center with bundling leaves for a different set of cages from those in the morning and then head home for dinner and a well needed rest.
What are your top three facts about one of the species you worked with in Vietnam?
One species I was lucky enough to work with were Pygmy Slow Lorises! Three interesting facts about them are:
1. They are some of the only nocturnal primates in Asia.
2. They love to eat stick insects
3. One reason they are hunted is to be used in love potions
If you could change one thing about the world to make it safer for animals what would it be?
I would inform people on other methods to make a living than by hunting or destroying the forests, which surround them.
What is the most surprising thing you have learned about primates?
The CRAZIEST thing I have learned about primates would have to be the relationships that primates make and how different their personalities can be! There are playful, grumpy, lazy and energetic monkeys and apes just like us humans!
Do you have any future plans to visit other animal rescue centers? If so, where in the world do you plan to go?
I definitely have plans on visiting other animal rescue centers. I am not sure if I will be working there or just visiting, but I would love to help out where I can. As for where would I go? Well anywhere my life takes me. I love adventure and going to new places.
Many of the animals that are endangered live far away from me, what can I do to help them?
There are so many things you can do to help the animals that live across the world. You can start with easy things like recycling and asking your parents if they can help by buying local grown fruits and vegetables and other food items. You can also do things in your school such as starting a club to help show people the importance of the environment or look online for other groups and websites about helping the earth!