More than 500 animals make their home at the 186-acre Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary near Dilley, Texas. There, the macaques, baboons and vervets enjoy extensive freedom of movement, species-appropriate food and choice of companions, in accordance with their social nature. Before their arrival, however, quite a few of the primates lived in difficult circumstances, whether they were used for research in medical laboratories, were part of the "animal entertainment" industry or were kept as people's "pets." Some were rescued individually or in pairs, and we've told you about several of them, including Winnie, India and Justin. Others, however, have made a big splash — sometimes literally, as you will see below — by arriving in big groups. Here, we recall some of those multiple-monkey rescues and link to updates of how they've settled into their new and greatly improved lives.
What an exciting week we’ve had at the Sanctuary. In the sweltering south Texas heat, a crew from Texas Purple Sage Services and our dedicated staff built a more than half-acre enclosure, complete with climbing structures, shelters, native habitat, and five 20’ x 20’ covered safety areas to welcome our newest residents. We’ve spent months preparing for the arrival of nine new baboons and on September 17, 2013, the big day finally came.
On Nov. 21, 2011, a bankruptcy court in Texas ruled in favor of the transfer of 113 animals — 112 macaques and one baboon — from the now defunct Wild Animal Orphanage (WAO) in San Antonio, Texas, to The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley, Texas. This is thought to be one of the largest rescues of macaques in history. At the spacious 186-acre Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, these monkeys soon were to join the current 532 primate residents and live as freely as possible. Before the move, each animal was to be thoroughly medically tested, sterilized and tattooed, and the Born Free USA facility and staff were making sure they were completely ready for their highly sensitive transition.
Freeman the long-tailed macaque lived more than 10 years in a filthy cage inside an abusive home in Midland, MI. In late spring 2012 — thanks to the persistent and big-hearted efforts of a woman who frequently visited JR (the monkey's pre-sanctuary name) in his "owner's" house — he was rescued and driven 28 hours to the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary near Dilley, TX, where he will spend the rest of his life and hopefully forget all about his previous, tortured existence.
The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary has agreed to rescue an abused macaque found living in horrendous conditions at the Collins Zoo in Collins, MS, after an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States revealed serious animal welfare issues and public safety concerns at the facility. According to Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA, "Like most roadside zoos, these animals were living in unthinkable, inhumane conditions, many suffering from a variety of life threatening physical and mental conditions. Every day in this country, wild animals need to be rescued from "pet owners," laboratories, roadside zoos and other abusive circumstances. These situations are ticking time bombs waiting to go off and endanger the public."
A 3-year-old baboon who had been living in a basement in Madison, Wis., was surrendered to Dane County Animal Services at the beginning of August 2011 and — thanks to a collaboration between the Dane County Humane Society and the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary — was transported to the sanctuary on Aug. 30. According to Director Tim Ajax, 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."
before coming to the sanctuary.
Samantha, a 25-year-old snow monkey who for many years had been kept as a backyard "pet" in Kansas, was driven to the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary by our veterinary technician, Traci Hanson, and her husband, Burl. The grueling drive included a hail storm, but Sam seemed to take the new experience in stride! The fearless trio made it to the sanctuary after midnight and everyone was up first thing the next morning to see Sam take her first peak at the new world around her from behind the safety of her familiar toy, a bicycle tire. Now the harder trip begins — teaching her to just be a monkey.
In early 2011, we welcomed Bella to the sanctuary. She is a 7-year-old female Japanese macaque who is full of energy and has an engaging personality. Bella was purchased as an infant and reared as best as possible given that humans rather than her mother were raising her. As she matured she became increasingly aggressive, especially with other human females, and was becoming harder for the human male to handle.
When one door closes, another one opens, and the transition can be a wonderful thing. Following the closing of an East Coast pharmaceutical laboratory, 15 long-tailed macaques received a second chance at life — a peaceful retirement at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary. They arrived on Saturday, July 17, safe and sound after a 1,700-mile journey. The monkeys, all males weighing between 9 and 15 pounds and younger than 6 (long-tail macaques can live up to 30 years), initially were evaluated in temporary cages in a climate-controlled room. Soon after, Sanctuary Director Tim Ajax began the slow, delicate task of transitioning the rescues to a 5-acre enclosure with trees, grass and lots of other macaques.
Sometimes, new residents aren't bothered by a little dirt in their new surroundings. Not long after a group of 31 long-tail macaques rescued from a laboratory arrived at the sanctuary, they started digging in the soil. Many of them splashed around in the mud and water after their water troughs had been emptied, prompting the sanctuary's human workers to make mud puddles for the monkeys to enjoy during hot Texas days. The primates got very excited and gathered around to drink, splash or simply sit in the water. By July, all the rescued macaques were living in the new 5-acre, free-range enclosure, spending afternoons relaxing, grooming each other, sleeping and lazing around in — you guessed it — the water and mud.