About The Sanctuary
The Primate Sanctuary is a division of Born Free USA. Our mission is to provide nonhuman primates as high a quality of life as we can, with as little human interference as needed to maintain their proper care. The 186-acre sanctuary, located near San Antonio, Texas, is home to more than 600 individuals, many of whom were rescued from abusive or exploitative situations.
Just before Independence Day in 2010, over 120 Beagles and 55 long-tailed macaques abandoned at AniClin Laboratories in New Jersey won an important court verdict and were ordered released to sanctuaries. The company had locked their doors and dismissed the employees, some of whom returned and scaled the fence in a desperate attempt to assist the animals locked inside.
I witness amazing, heartwarming scenes at the sanctuary every single day. Here is just one of those stories…
In 2010, we found her wandering aimlessly in the five-acre northwest enclosure, one of 136 monkeys occupying the large natural area. She was moving in an erratic line, taking a few steps at a time and then stopping to extend her hand in front of her, feeling for trees, brush, or monkeys. We could tell that the old girl had gone blind, likely due to age-related issues. After determining there wasn’t any way to repair the damage, we decided to leave her where she was and watch her closely to see if she would adjust.
As I rounded the corner to the small pond inside our 56-acre snow monkey habitat, the problem was easy to see. Staff had reported very low water pressure in the enclosure, and there was the culprit: a silver undulating stream of water spouting eight feet into the air.
The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary is home to more than 600 primates and, while the majority of the inhabitants are macaques, it is also home to 22 baboons. These incredible primates are notable not only for their distinct looks, but also for their unique personalities. Two of the most endearing characters are Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley, two young male baboons who seem to have a never-ending supply of energy and a predisposition for mischief. They are quick to investigate anything new, whether it’s something added to their enclosure or an unusual sound. No blade of grass, insect, or flower escapes their notice and subsequent harassment, to the point of wearing everything (and everyone) out around them. Fortunately, our newest baboon residents are much more relaxed and easy going.
Just over a year ago, we completed the transfer of 107 primates from the bankrupt Wild Animal Orphanage (WAO) to the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary. This huge undertaking was a tremendous challenge for everyone involved, and we endured many sleepless nights, our minds churning with how to best assimilate all of these monkeys into our already busy sanctuary. The largest single primate rescue in this country came off without a hitch, and it’s hard to believe that a year has already passed since they bolted out of their transport crates into the south Texas sun.
In our last rescue update, I shared the story of the "lucky nine" baboons who had just arrived at the Sanctuary in September. These nine females—Pearl, Missy, Chloe, April, Friendly, Spicey, Brooke, Kennedy, and Lulu, ages 13-23—were recently retired from a New York laboratory research program. Until their move to the Sanctuary, the baboons had spent nearly their entire lives in separate cages, and hadn't experienced the outdoors.