CLEVELAND, June 27 /PRNewswire/ — Summer, 2000 — Scratch your nose. Turn on a light. Pick up something you dropped. Easy tasks for anyone – unless you happen to be paralyzed.

That’s why K&M International will donate a portion of the sales from its Wild Republic(R) collectible plush primates to Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled; an organization that trains capuchin monkeys to assist severely disabled individuals.

Monkey Helpers perform simple, but immeasurably important tasks for persons who cannot move their arms or legs — tasks that most of us take for granted, such as getting something to eat or drink, retrieving dropped or out of reach items, inserting video cassettes and CDs or turning the pages of a book.

Monkey Helpers are raised and trained by a group of dedicated professionals at Helping Hands, a 20 year old organization associated with Boston University. Over a period of time, the capuchin monkeys learn to live with humans and perform a number of tasks. Upon graduation, they are placed into the homes, and lives, of people who are paralyzed. And they are utterly indispensable — both for the tasks they perform and the companionship they provide.

According to Helping Hands, it costs approximately $8,000 to train just one monkey, and $25,000 to sponsor a monkey from birth to actual placement. Funds donated by K&M through Wild Republic sales will go primarily toward training and placing more Monkey Helpers with people who are paralyzed.

“We are in complete awe of Helping Hands’ ability to improve the quality of life of so many through this unique program. It’s incredible how, with training, these creatures can become so vital in someone’s life,” said Cathy LeDonne, general manager for K&M International.

According to Helping Hands, Monkey Helpers do more than perform tasks– they become lifelong companions to the recipients of their help. “Our
capuchins form special bonds with the individuals they help and often live with them for 20 years or more,” said Judi Zazula, executive director of Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled.

Over four million Wild Republic monkeys and primates have been sold since they were launched just one year ago. Wild Republic primates are extremely popular with children because they have long arms that can hug a child or hang from backpacks and bedposts. Each has a name and story, and each comes with free, interactive Internet games at

“K&M has a long tradition of supporting worthwhile causes — especially
those related to animals. Our association with Helping Hands could not be more natural. We help them train monkeys to help people. And that makes us very proud,” LeDonne said.

“K&M and the Wild Republic have been a true blessing to Helping Hands. We will be able to do so much more — we can’t thank them enough for their generosity,” said Zazula.

K&M is a leading supplier of nature-themed toys to zoos, aquariums, museums and specialty toy and gift stores throughout the world. K&M International is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio.

For more information about the Wild Republic or Helping Hands, call Cathy LeDonne at K&M, 800-800-9678.



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