Tim Ajax

Sanctuary Blog

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!

Mississippi Macaque Rescued!

Published: 01/25/12

More January 2012 Rescue images
The macaque before his rescue.
(Photo courtesy of HSUS)

A monkey in Mississippi, long subjected to absolute misery in a cage, on Jan. 25, 2012, began an incredible journey toward living in open spaces along with members of his own species at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary.

Our friends at The Humane Society of the United States came across this adult male rhesus macaque after conducting an undercover investigation of the Collins Zoo, where they documented deplorable conditions. The monkey — currently unnamed — was confined to a small cage (watch him frantically pace in the tiny enclosure). Lions, tigers and other exotic animals exhibited signs of malnourishment and neglect, and venomous snakes were held in unsecured enclosures. A black wolf, whom the investigator pointed out to zoo owners as needing veterinary care, was not treated and a few days later died.

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Do or Die for the WAO Group

Born Free USA To Rescue More Than 100 Animals

Published: 12/08/11

More images of The WAO Group.
Watch videos of the rescue!
Chappy, a crab-eating macaque,
will live at the Primate Sanctuary!
(Photograph courtesy of
and by Michelle Reininger)

(This story appears in the fall/winter 2011 issue of Born Free USA's Animal Issues Digest.)

Fifi, a rhesus macaque, had been a "pet" in a tiny cage in her owner's New York City basement. Her tail was amputated, probably to facilitate putting diapers on her. Chappy, a crab-eating macaque, was a biomedical research subject; the stress of life in the lab led him to pluck his body bald. Dex, a stumptail macaque, also exploited for research, has only his thumb and index finger on his right hand.

Fifi and Chappy and Dex (and Maddie and Leo and Stiggy and dozens of other monkeys) all suffered from the start. But thanks to the caregivers at the Wild Animal Orphanage (WAO) in San Antonio, Texas, they were able to experience comparative freedom from their former abhorrent confinement.

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Don’t Underestimate Monkeys!

Published: 09/22/11

(Photograph by Traci Hanson)

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

I think that we as humans tend to underestimate animals. They can do far more then we give them credit for. They are very intelligent and they have a wide range of emotions.

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‘Monkey’ the Baboon (VIDEOS)

Published: 09/02/11

The rescued baboon named Monkey.
More baboon rescue images.

During the height of our heat wave we were alerted that a young male baboon needed a permanent home. He was living in a basement laundry room in Madison, WI, and the owner surrendered him to the Dane County Humane Society when he found out he would be cited and have to pay fines for each day he continued to keep the baboon. Though local law did not allow the animal control officer to outright confiscate the young baboon, the fine was large enough to persuade the young man who owned him to turn him over.

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Make Way for Monkey!

Published: 09/02/11

Monkey settles in.
More baboon rescue images.

Thanks to a collaborative effort with the Dane County Humane Society in Wisconsin, the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary was able to welcome a 3-year-old baboon who up until then had been confined to a laundry room! Here’s how the rescue unfolded on our Facebook page:

Aug. 24, 2011: We started work today modifying one of the baboon safety enclosures — stay tuned during the next week for some exciting news ;)

Aug. 28: It reached 110 at the sanctuary today but we still managed to get some more work done on the baboon cage modification. Marvin was watching us closely making sure we were doing it right!

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"Splish Splash It's a Monkey Bath"

Published: 07/27/11

Please take a look at our new Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary video, a light-hearted little snippet we call "Splish Splash." Here's how the frolicking footage came about:

I could hear the routine splash of monkeys playing in the water - chasing each other through the shallows or canon-balling into the warm water from the heights of a nearby tree overhanging the pond. I was looking forward to shooting some quick video while I had a little time to spare and the monkeys were busy trying to cool off.

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hot, Hot, HOT!!!

Published: 06/21/11

Lokey plays in the water.

Summer begins today, but it has felt like August for the past month and a half here at the sanctuary. We’ve had weeks now with highs in the hundreds and little cloud cover. We’ve received barely a half-inch of rain since February and there is only a spattering of vegetation left. Dust devils raise gyrating columns of red dirt here and there around the sanctuary and the water from the faucets now runs warm most of the time. The lack of ground cover combined with the relentless sun (which shines without a break from 6:30 in the morning until 8:30 in the evening) heats the soil up and then that heat is radiated back at night, keeping the environment uncomfortably warm. It looks like we could be in for a dangerously hot and dry summer.

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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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