Former Talkin’ Monkeys intern works in Uganda

HENDRY COUNTY — One of Dr. Deb Misotti’s alumni from the Talkin’ Monkeys Project in rural Hendry County is now in Uganda, carrying the education that he received, in part, there into his master’s degree work on primate conservation research.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of Deborah Misotti
Matthew Henderson, an intern and volunteer at the Talkin’ Monkeys Project, now is studying in Uganda.

Matthew Henderson, a former volunteer and intern at the sanctuary, was born in Clearwater, raised in Endicott, N.Y., graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers and is doing research studies toward his master’s degree from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Dr. Misotti heard from him recently and posted an update on her own and the sanctuary’s social media pages Saturday, June 8. “I am so happy that he took the time to message me for an update on his work from Uganda where he is in the field studying wild chimpanzees! Matthew says he misses our primates and the sanctuary. We miss him, too!” she wrote.

Contacted through Facebook the next afternoon, Mr. Henderson said he’d like to update his fellow FGCU alums and Florida friends about his work.

“Right now, I’m at Budongo Conservation Field Station in Uganda studying wild chimpanzee vocal communication as part of my master’s at the University of St. Andrews,” Matthew wrote.
“The Talkin’ Monkeys project was the most instrumental building block that has led me toward this career in primatology,” he went on. “During the four years that I volunteered/interned/researched at her sanctuary, I developed a deep connection toward all the individuals she housed that led to my current passion for primatology. Dr. Deb’s incredible enthusiasm and devotion for this field helped me find my own, and I thank her so much for that.”

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of Deborah Misotti
Dr. Deb Misotti (center) with some of her graduating interns in 2018, and Matthew next to her.

He said he would love to go into more detail, “but I actually have to wake up at 5 a.m. tomorrow (it’s 11:30 p.m. here) to go out in the forest.” But he did promise to write and clue in readers and his followers on what his current work involves.

Said Dr. Misotti: “We are very proud of his work and his efforts for primate conservation… It made me feel good to know he is following his dream!”

Mr. Henderson said it hasn’t taken long to get used to the cacophony of wildlife sounds that echo through the night in the African countryside.

“I have a few bats that live in my wall that don’t shut up, and there are quite a few mysterious animal noises throughout the night, but they’re all lullaby music to me now!”

Chris Felker can be reached at

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