by Tim Ajax, Director
Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary
Some people monkey around a little, some people monkey around a lot, and then there's Tim. He's a prince among primates, presiding over hundreds of fellow bipeds in the often-brutal Texas outdoors. There's no ape escape for Tim and his crew, but no matter. They love to help macaques, baboons and vervets live out their lives with as much freedom as possible. And like peeling a banana, Tim's blogs take you to the good stuff inside — with a steady supplement of Texas weather updates, of course!
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.
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.
Another busy week! We have been building dens from freshly pruned tree branches for some of the semi-natural enclosures. These provide the monkeys with additional natural enrichment.
Spring has arrived at last! The Sanctuary is beginning to turn a nice shade of green. It won’t be long before there is lush foliage in all the monkey enclosures.