Saturday, 11 August 2012

Wedding Photographer turns Foster Mom for Monkeys

After a decade of serving Bride and Grooms, nothing could have prepared this Connecticut Wedding Photographer for an adventure in the Bush of South Africa to serve as a Foster mother to baboons.

Everyone has a day job, a weekly routine and a “normal” life to tend to, yet underneath it all most of us only dream of taking on a wild adventure as seen in the movies, if only for a day. Connecticut Wedding Photographer Jinnellys LaViera of LaViera Photography had lived her share of daily routines.  She had served happily for nearly a decade in the exciting world of Wedding Photography. Though she loved her job as Wedding Photographer, she had always longed to travel to Africa and pursue her love for animals.

The opportunity to explore this dream did not come knocking at her door. After watching a documentary of volunteers who lived in the remote bush in South Africa to rescue  and rehabilitate abandoned  and mistreated Baboons, she was instantly inspired.  Sure, most days she would have thought like most people “Someone else has a really cool life.”, but not this day.

As most Connecticut Wedding Photographers, booked for a year in advance by beautiful brides and grooms tying the knot throughout the state, realistically she couldn’t just drop everything and go chase this dream. Instead, she began to plan her adventure a year ahead.

The first step was to submit an application the organization which rescued baboons. The Center for Animal Rehabilitation and Education - C.A.R.E., located in Phalaborwa, South Africa, is a wildlife rehabilitation facility dedicated to the care, welfare, rehabilitation and protection of injured and orphaned indigenous wild animals. The center specializes in the care of Chacma baboons, actively pursuing their rescue, rehabilitation and release. The center currently houses over 400 baboons and is the only facility in Southern Africa that accepts orphaned or abandoned baboons and offers them long term care. After submitting her application, she discovered that they were also in search for photographers who would photograph the animals.

Before she knew it, this CT Wedding Photographer had booked her ticket to South Africa to serve as a volunteer in the middle of the remote bush in South Africa. She served as a foster mom to orphaned baboons, taking on the daily care of the infants including feeding, teaching, bottle preparation and cage cleaning. While living in the bush, it was as if time slowed down by half as the daily life in the bush forced her to live life in the moment. She met people from all over the world who had also taken on the leap to pursue an idea outside of the norm.

The experience was exhilarating. Living in the bush and caring for infant baboons was beyond her expectation; something she would have never imagined being a part of.  She created a documentary to share the experience.
Though back in the world of Connecticut Wedding Photographers world these days, Jinnellys had now made it her goal to take on the routine unthinkable adventure. Her new motto in life is “why not me?”

For more inspiration visit her at

A short clip of the documentary is available to view at