Ashley Judd. Hear the name and a glamorous Hollywood star is likely to come to mind, all glossy-haired and red-lipped and flawlessly turned out on the red carpet.
But there’s another side to the actress too – one that takes her far from the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown and deep into the steamy heart of the African jungle. Twice a year, Ashley spends at least a month in remote parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of a research project involving bonobos, endangered apes found only in the rainforests in the east of this vast Central African country.
Over the years the 52-year-old star has formed close friendships with local men and women who work on the project – and without them, she says, she may well not have made it out of there alive. The story Ashley tells sounds like something from a horror movie.