One Clever Monkey!

Published: 06/09/11

Traci Hanson, Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary's on-site manager, writes:

Bella likes snacking on grapes, too.

I have come to greatly admire the problem-solving abilities of the primates I have had the privilege to work with over the years.

Let me tell you the story of one such primate, the ex-pet snow monkey named Bella. You may have even seen her on TV. She brings a smile to my face to watch her from afar, and I am always surprised by her creativity. She is always playing with random stuff that she finds in her enclosure. One time she was rolling around two uneaten oranges, another time she was carrying a Kong dog toy about, still another time she was making noise banging a couple of pieces of untreated wood together.

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Settling In, Bonding, Being Monkeys

Published: 06/02/11

Traci Hanson, Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary's on-site manager, writes:

A long-tailed macaque plays in the
dirt at the south Texas sanctuary.

You might remember that back in July 2010 we rescued a group of long-tail macaques from a life spent in an East Coast laboratory. I am happy to report that today, they are doing well.

Shortly after their arrival, with the help of a vet, we neutered all of them. Currently they are housed in several of our semi-natural enclosures in small groups of four or five. After some minor quarrels within each group to establish the hierarchy, everyone has settled in.

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Springtime for Samantha

Published: 04/20/11

Samantha's home for many years
before coming to the sanctuary.

In early April 2011, the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary welcomed a new resident: Samantha, a snow monkey who for many years had been kept as a caged, backyard “pet.” Tim Ajax, our sanctuary’s director, relayed these rescue road trip reports that we posted on our Facebook page:

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Beautiful Summer

Published: 03/15/11


(Note from Tim: I wanted to share with you all a poignant message we received at the sanctuary over the weekend. There’s really nothing for me to say that adds anything of substance other than to state how privileged we feel to be doing what we’re doing and to have had a small part in bringing some joy to a wonderful child.)

I am writing to you in memory of a special little girl whose name was Summer. Summer came into my life a few short months ago as a student at my preschool. She was a captivating little girl at the age of 3. She stole my heart from the moment we met.

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Welcome, Bella!

Published: 03/07/11

The severe cold front that brought us ice, snow and arctic temperatures is a fading memory now as the push is on for spring. We’ve warmed up considerably and days of clear, blue, south Texas skies are stretching together. The days are really comfortable and the primates spend a good deal of time sunbathing. Grasses have started emerging from dormancy and it won’t be long until the area sheds off the dreary winter coat and comes alive with more attractive attire.

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The Big Chill of 2011: Tim’s Diary

Sanctuary Director Reports From the Front Lines of a Deep Freeze

Published: 02/04/11

Wednesday evening, Feb. 2: We made it through the first night but tonight and tomorrow night will be a big test for everyone as the temps will drop even lower and the breeze will push the wind-chill temps into single digits. Thanks to Traci Hanson, Esteban Ramirez, Oscar Garcia, Juan Ramirez and Gabriel Ramirez we’ve been able to provide some extra heat for the vervets (Chango and Bridget don’t like to hang out in the same sleeping quarters as Charles and Bouf), replenish hay in all the critical areas including the baboons, install an extra heating mat for Bo and still manage to get everyone fed and cleaned. To help fuel the monkeys with the extra calories they’ll burn trying to stay warm we’ve gone to additional afternoon feedings of peanuts, sunflower seeds and monkey biscuits.

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Today’s Lesson Is …

Published: 01/21/11


The new year is off to a great start as we finally had some reprieve from the three-month drought we’ve been suffering through. A little over 2 inches of rain fell over the course of about 10 days, and what little winter foliage there is this time of year immediately perked up, including the winter rye we planted in several of the enclosures. The rye is a great way to keep the soil in place during the winter to make sure that when spring arrives there’s a solid footing for all the new plant life that will keep the monkeys occupied throughout the day.

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Simply Our Best

Published: 01/04/11

As we begin another year I think back over all that happened in 2010: the good, the unfortunate and the seemingly neutral, normal things that collectively make up the bulk of our days. Though the high and low events are the ones I remember best, and often judge our successes or failures by, I think it’s actually the simple, everyday occurrences that define us in the long run, and here at the sanctuary every day finds us focused on the basics of assuring a quality of life for those we’re humbled to serve.

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