One of the things I enjoy most about living at the Sanctuary is our rural location and the fact that we share our land with many other fascinating wildlife including deer, turkeys, pigs, armadillos, snakes, raccoons, and skunks. Snakes usually keep to areas where there is little human activity so we only get to see them once in a while. This weekend, however, was an exception — a male and female bullsnake spent the morning going through a mating ritual in our compound area. It was wonderful to watch these individuals, each almost five feet long, seemingly oblivious to our presence as they writhed and slithered along.
The longtail macaques who arrived from a research laboratory are making good progress. Although still cautious, the monkeys are visibly more relaxed in their new surroundings. They are playing with and chasing each other. There is a lot of play biting and grooming taking place which is so nice to watch. This week I have noticed that they are spending more time in the water. Many of them enjoy splashing around in the mud and water after their water troughs have been emptied. As a result, I have started to make mud puddles for them during the hot afternoons. They get very excited and gather around to drink, splash, or simply sit in the water.
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.
At the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, rescuing and providing homes for nonhuman primates is deeply satisfying because of the new and rich life we give these individuals. It is a fact of life, of course, that these individuals eventually die. So it was, sadly, with Holly, the eldest baboon at the Sanctuary.
It is with mixed feelings that I write this week’s Primate Posting. Sadly, Holly, one of the female baboons has died.
Considering Holly's horrible start in life (she was used in laboratory drug addiction experiments), it is remarkable that she lived to such an age (around 28 years). I was comforted by the knowledge that for the last few years of her life she lived in a natural environment, far removed from the metal bars of a laboratory cage. She also had the companionship of other baboons, in particular Boon, a male who lived with her in their own enclosure attached to the free range baboon enclosure.
Yet another good delivery of fresh produce this week — lots of soft fruit such as peaches, mangos, nectarines, grapes, and pluots. It’s a real treat to feed the baboons the day after our delivery. They are always keen to see what is new on the menu and get very excited vocalizing to each other if they see a particularly favored item.
Maude and Elsie, the two rhesus macaques who were recently retired from the research industry, continue to do well. They are socializing with monkeys in neighboring enclosures. Elsie is the more active of the two and enjoys having a lively “discussion” with a young male snow monkey. She has also developed a strong rapport with another female macaque and it is heartwarming to watch them grooming each other.
It’s getting near the time of year when the monkeys really start to enjoy water. As the days get warmer, the monkeys make the most of the pools in their enclosures — chasing each other, jumping in, splashing around, and swimming. The snow monkeys especially enjoy water and those who live in our 56-acre enclosure have two large ponds in which to play. They climb onto nearby tree branches and use them like diving boards jumping into the water.
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