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For Immediate Release: 09/01/11

Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary and Dane County Humane Society (Wis.) Join Forces to Help Baboon, Once Kept in Basement, Find Permanent Home

Baboon Journey from Wisconsin to Texas Set This Week

The 3-year-old baboon who was surrendered to Dane County (Wisconsin) Animal Services at the beginning of August left Dane County Humane Society (DCHS) on Monday, Aug. 29, to be transported to the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley, Texas. Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary is located on 186 acres near San Antonio and is home to more than 500 primates, many of whom were rescued from laboratories, roadside zoos and private possession

According to Tim Ajax, director of the Texas facility, Born Free USA has one of the few sanctuaries — perhaps the only in the country — with a large baboon habitat. “When we heard about the plight of the young male baboon who had been living in a basement, we gave careful consideration as to whether we could address his needs and ‘rehabilitate’ him to the point that he would have a good chance of integrating into our established group. We are pleased to be able to offer him a permanent home in a large, natural environment where he can spend the rest of his life in the company of other baboons.”

After being surrendered to Animal Services in August, the baboon was immediately transferred to the care of Dane County Humane Society. The organization worked closely with Henry Vilas Zoo (in Madison) Curator Jeff Stafford to prepare an isolated kennel area to temporarily and safely house the baboon. Stafford helped provide DCHS with appropriate food and advice on feeding, supplies and enrichment activities, and reinforced caging to ensure the baboon was safe and healthy during his stay. DCHS is incredibly appreciative of his support.

DCHS contacted certified zoo and sanctuary options around the United States in hopes of finding a place that would take the baboon. “A canine kennel environment is not ideal for a primate, but we used the resources that we had and created the best setup that we could,” said DCHS Public Relations Coordinator Gayle Viney.

Henry Vilas Zoo veterinarian Dr. Mike Petersen and DCHS shelter veterinarian Dr. Erica Smedberg recently completed the needed medical requirements for the baboon’s transfer to Texas. The animal was sterilized to prevent reproduction. It had been suspected that the baboon's baby canine teeth had been pulled out, and during the procedure it was confirmed that he no longer has those teeth. If his adult canine teeth come in as expected, that hopefully will allow him to safely be introduced to another group of baboons.

While being cared for at DCHS, shelter staff members worked hard to provide enrichment opportunities while caring for the baboon such as utilizing different feeding and treating styles, clicker training, ropes, hammocks and playing DVDs on a donated TV and DVD player. A webcam was also set up to help monitor the baboon’s activities.

Viney said, “While at DCHS, the baboon has stayed calm and cooperative, but we can tell he is getting more stressed every day. We’re very excited that he’ll soon be at Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in an environment that is much more suitable for a primate.” A DCHS staff member will be transporting the baboon to Texas this week.

Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA, said, “The story of this baboon is unfortunately all too common with an epidemic in this country of keeping wild animals as pets. Wild animals belong in the wild. History has proven that injury or death can happen at any time, anywhere, as a result of someone keeping a wild animal as a pet, a captive animal escaping from a zoo, or an animal used for entertainment. Born Free USA tracks such incidents through its online database designed as a resource for the media, lawmakers, activists and the public, to help shed light on the magnitude of the issue. We are happy we can help this baboon, and add him to our over 500 residents at our sanctuary, but this is not always the case.”

Dane County Humane Society is thankful for the community’s continued support and is glad they were able to step up and help an animal in need. Being a completely private, not-for-profit organization, the shelter depends on the generosity of the public in order to care for homeless animals.

Born Free USA (BFUSA) is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation and public education, BFUSA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and destructive international wildlife trade. BFUSA’s Primate Sanctuary in Texas is home to more than 500 primates rescued from laboratories, roadside zoos and private possession. BFUSA brings to America the message of “compassionate conservation,” the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film “Born Free,” along with their son Will, now CEO of both organizations. BFUSA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.

More at www.bornfreeusa.org; on twitter at http://twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

Media Contact: Rodi Rosensweig, (203) 270-8929; rodicompany@earthlink.net.

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