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Wear and Care at the Primate Sanctuary

From Animal Issues, Volume 40 Number 3, Fall 2009

Published 08/28/09
By Tim Ajax, Sanctuary Director

The past 8 to 12 months have certainly been very busy at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary. As I told you when I introduced myself, we recently completed a new, lush 2.5 acre enclosure for our group of baboons. Initially, I was most concerned about one of our older olive baboons, Boon, and his adjustment to the new surroundings following the 2008 death of his longtime companion, Holly. But Boon is thriving and when he’s not busy roaming the dense underbrush foraging for snacks he can be found perched stoically atop a large fallen tree — free to be a baboon.

Caring for more than 500 primates who rely on us for their very survival is not just a job but (to borrow a phrase) it’s an adventure! I enjoy sharing heartwarming stories with you, our champions and supporters, about individuals who, after previously suffering lives as research subjects, or as private “pets” made to dress in children’s clothing, or as attractions in deplorable roadside zoos, now flourish at our Sanctuary.

To provide this life-saving care and rehabilitation, we must also ensure the Sanctuary’s enclosures, buildings, and grounds are updated as needed and conditioned to withstand year after year of harsh Texas weather — not to mention the inevitable wear and tear from our very active, very athletic monkeys! It is an expensive, ongoing process, but one that is intrinsic to the overall health and well-being of every monkey in our care.

Vital Sanctuary Projects

Right now we’re putting the finishing touches on a multi-purpose utility building. This much-needed structure provides us with a large monkey-food preparation area, a tool storage space and work area for repair/maintenance tasks, and a break room for our small, hard-working staff. Grant funding from The Edith H. Hahn Animal and Wildlife Preservation Fund of the Lutheran Community Foundation, Leo Guthman Fund, Winley Foundation, The Baobab Fund, Judi and Howard Strauss Foundation, and a private donor made this project possible.

In addition to the utility building, plans are in place for several other critically important projects. While we continue to seek support from foundations and corporations, you — as an individual supporter — have an opportunity to be an integral part of our future success. By making a donation today, you help ensure our ability not only to continue caring for monkeys such as Gilbert, Noelle, Carly, Maude, and Elsie, but to continue to rescue other individuals in need.

Your crucial support allows us to update our water supply system, adding filtration and the ability to store a significant amount of emergency reserve water. With a major drought in progress, it is imperative that we have this backup supply in the event of well failure. And, of course, it is vital to ensure our primates and staff have access to clean water under any circumstances.

With your help, we will continue with plans to build at least two new transition enclosures. These smaller enclosures are critical for new arrivals who require rehabilitation before they are able to join larger groups either in one of our semi-natural enclosures or in one of our free-range enclosures. In many cases, these monkeys experience earthen ground, sunlight, natural vegetation — and the sights and sounds of other monkeys — for the first time in their lives! Without transition enclosures, we may be unable to welcome any new primates who require rehabilitation.

Monkeys love to climb, play, hide, and cavort with their companions. Indeed, this type of activity is germane to their quality of life. While our larger, free-range enclosures are naturally enriched with trees, shrubs, grasses, and ponds, we also provide fabricated climbing structures and shelters for protection against inclement weather. Years of natural wear and tear have taken their toll on some of these structures. Plans are in place to construct at least five new shelters and ten climbing structures but we need your help to make it a reality. The monkeys here notice and explore every little change in their environment and you simply cannot imagine how excited they will be to have new places to climb and explore (and pit their strength against)!

More Ways You Can Help

Supporting our Sanctuary with a donation toward one of our many important projects is not the only way to show how much you care about the primates living there. You may instead choose to participate in our Adoption Program. An adoption gift of $52 — or just $1 a week — makes a real difference in the care of one of our adoptees as well as all of the monkeys at the Sanctuary.

Your adoption package includes a full-color photo, biography, certificate of adoption, a commemorative gift, and a subscription to the Primate Post newsletter that will provide you with Sanctuary news as well as updates on your adopted monkey. In addition, adoptions make wonderful gifts year-round for all occasions.

We’ve just added to our program a very special monkey — Joey, a striking, 13-year-old black crested macaque. Joey arrived at our Sanctuary after his “owner” came to the very difficult but correct decision that she could not provide him with the environment he needed.

Joey currently lives in one of our large, semi-natural enclosures with several other monkeys: Gilbert, Florence, Justin, Ted, Zach, and India. Our most diverse group, they represent five different species of macaques and Joey is part of the glue that binds the group together.

Easily excited, Joey is sure to “voice his opinion” on everything going on around him. In addition, he never passes up an opportunity to engage in a good game of tag with Florence. Despite not being quite as young or nimble as Florence, he gives good chase just the same!

Another way to help is to “Go Nuts!” or “Go Bananas!” Let your friend or family member think you've gone nuts for their birthday, anniversary, or any special occasion by giving them a 50 lb bag of nuts or a case of bananas! They'll quickly discover that you're really just nuts for animals, as the nuts or bananas will actually feed the monkeys at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary. A 50 lb bag of nuts is only $15; a case of bananas is only $25.

And don’t forget ... we’ve developed yet another way to help the primates at our Sanctuary — Monkey Business Parties. Introduced in our last issue, we encourage supporters of all ages to be as creative as they like in developing a personal fundraising event. We provide all the tools you need to have fun while raising money and awareness.

The only limit is your imagination. From garage sales and bake sales to virtual online parties, brunches, lunches or cocktail parties, you could be making a difference right now for the monkeys.

Managing a large, free-range Sanctuary is not only extremely expensive, it is also a long-term commitment as many of our primates can live up to 30 years. We are responsible for these individual lives 365 days a year. We count on compassionate people like you to partner with us in this endeavor, ensuring each of these individuals has the opportunity to enjoy a fulfilling life living as free as is possible. Every life matters to us and every contribution you make is your voice speaking loud and clear in support of these lives.


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