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Law professor’s new book chronicles baboon conservationist

Because They Needed Me book cover

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA — A new book by WVU Law professor Michael Blumenthal chronicles the life and work of conservationist Rita Miljo, who was known as “the Mother Teresa of Baboons.”

In 1989, Miljo founded the Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education (CARE) in South Africa. Based on the edge of Kruger National Park, CARE is the world’s largest rescue and rehabilitation center for Cape baboons. 

In 2007, Blumenthal volunteered at CARE and began a deep and unusual friendship with Miljo: he, the son of Holocaust survivors, and she, a childhood member of Hitler Youth. 

Before she died in a fire in 2012, Miljo entrusted Blumenthal with the telling of her story. “Because They Needed Me: Rita Miljo and the Orphaned Baboons of South Africa” (Pleasure Boat Studio, 2016), is drawn from Miljo’s journals spanning 30 years. 

Blumenthal will read from and discuss “Because They Needed Me” on Wednesday, March 30, at 6:00 p.m. in the Marlyn E. Lugar Courtroom and the WVU College of Law. 

Admission is free and the public is invited to attend. 

Blumenthal, a former director of creative writing at Harvard University, joined the WVU Law faculty in 2009. 


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