Bill Chamberlains Account of Merlin van Lawick's Visit


Since my meeting Jane Goodall over 4 years ago she has blessed me with enough joyous insights and experiences to last any normal person a lifetime.

Merlin and friends at the US Wolf Refuge

two years ago she entrusted me with a great responsibility (and the wonderful experience) of sending her grandson - Merlin van Lawick - to the U.S. Wolf Refuge for a week of volunteer work. Like his grandmother he has always had a love of animals especially dogs. During that visit it became obvious that he has a special way with them, and our Shadow took to him quite favorably. Shadow is quite selective about who he interacts with. Merlin was able to get licks on the face from him and they went on extended walks together.

This past January Merlin came for another visit. Jane was chosen to be the Grand Marshal at the 2013 Rose Bowl Parade and tossed the coin at the beginning of the Rose Bowl game.

Merlin snowboarding for the first time

Merlin comes from Tanzania and Jane was able to overcome several visa issues and got Merlin into the U.S. Naturally he was quit anxious to visit the U.S. Wolf Refuge again. He was here for over a week. In Tanzania the weather is quite tropical. The temps range from 60°F to 90°F and the humidity is high. During this visit the weather here in western Nevada was cold with lots of snow. This was quite a change for him. So naturally we took him snowboarding. Since he is 20 years old and quite athletic, he was quite good at it almost immediately. We took him on the tram to the top at Heavenly Ski Resort.

Pat McLaughlin, Merlin, and Luc

A long-time friend and supporter Pat McLaughlin funded this adventure along with a wonderful lunch at the top of the resort. Later we all enjoyed going to a local theater and seeing the recent movie - The Life of Pi. We also spent some wonderful hours at Pat's home with Luc (his aging wolf).

We went to Incline Village to visit a long-time supporter and good friend of mine George Macricostas. George has been on the Board of Directors of the Jane Goodall Institute for many years but had never met Merlin. Our trip to his home was in quite a snow storm and when we got there we all agreed it would be best if stayed the night. This facilitated some wonderful long late-night talks where Merlin and George got to know each other and George and I got to catch up the many things that have occurred in our hectic lives.

I try to fill the time that Merlin spends here in the U.S. with as many educational and exciting experiences for him as I can. There were many other activities that we got to do together that opened his eyes to the opportunities that the U.S. can offer. He is now at a point in his life where what he does will shape his life in the years to come. One of those things is his education. Jane and I have always wanted him to go on to college but he naturally didn't know what he wanted to do. With our many talks he now realizes that attending college is quite important - no matter what he studies. I along with my many contacts at Univ. of Nevada Reno (UNR) are investigating what will be required for him to gain entry into the U.S. for his education ans what financial assistance will be available to him.

After leaving Nevada he is headed to the Boston area to visit a friend of his from Tanzania who is attending Wheaton College. Hopefully he will be able to answer many of our questions about how to make his education happen.

Merlin is an exceptional young man. He still has many youthful behaviors but his vast and worldly experiences has given him many insights that many of his age will never get. If more of the world's youth were like Merlin, today's world would be a far better place.

A few more photos

Merlin's snowboard run
Merlin's snowboard run.
Merlin and George
Merlin and George taking a break
Merlin and Maureen
Merlin pays a visit to Maureen Adams at All CreaturesAll Creatures Veterinary Hospital