Gambia Chimpanzee Expert Marsden Earns O.B.E from Queen Elizabeth

Chimpanzee rehabilitation pioneer Stella Brewer Marsden has been named an Officer of the British Empire (O.B.E.) in the United Kingdom’s New Year’s honours list by HM Queen Elizabeth II.

The appointment was made in recognition of Marsden’s long-term commitment to the rescue of chimpanzees in West Africa and the community development works associated with her programme in Gambia. The Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Association (CRA), which Marsden helped establish in 1969, now cares for 78 chimpanzees in the River Gambia National Park and is one of the oldest permanent conservation project in Africa.

Marsden’s O.B.E., which was awarded for services to wildlife conservation and to the local community in The Gambia, is one of the highest civilian honours granted by the British government. Marsden will receive her O.B.E. from the Queen in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

The Queen chooses the recipients on the advice of the Prime Minister, to whom recommendations are sent either by government ministers or by members of the public.

I am honored and delighted to be appointed O.B.E., but I consider the honour to be a shared one, Marsden said. It is shared with His Excellency the President of Gambia; the Government of Gambia, through it support for my work, and the Gambian nation, in grateful acknowledgement that much of my life’s work, and that of my father, has been undertaken here. It is also shared also with a number of extremely hard working and patriotic Gambians, from all walks of life, who have been immensely supportive in different ways.

The O.B.E. comes shortly after Marsden was granted an honorary doctorate from Glasgow University in Scotland.

Marsen’s father, Dr. Edward Brewer, also earned an O.B.E. for his conservation work in Gambia.

The CRA, which pioneered both the rescue of injured and unwanted chimpanzees and also the reintroduction of ad-hoc social groups onto island sanctuaries, is one of just three major projects Marsden operates in partnership with the Government of Gambia. The Horse & Donkey Association (HDA) was established in 2002 to improve equine welfare, and a partnership with the Sambel Kunda Lower Basic School has permitted over 300 children to get a proper education through a CRA sponsorship scheme.

The CRA is a charter member of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), the organization of endangered primate refuges across Africa. For more information, please contact the CRA at or PASA at

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