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!
Relief from the unusually hot and dry summer has arrived. Daytime highs in the low 80s and overnight lows in the upper 50s make it very pleasant. With some good rainfall in October the area has turned lush and we stay busy keeping fence-lines mowed and doing our best to catch up on smaller projects.
From Animal Issues, Volume 40 Number 3, Fall 2009
The past 8 to 12 months have certainly been very busy at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary. As I told you when I introduced myself, we recently completed a new, lush 2.5 acre enclosure for our group of baboons. Initially, I was most concerned about one of our older olive baboons, Boon, and his adjustment to the new surroundings following the 2008 death of his longtime companion, Holly. But Boon is thriving and when he’s not busy roaming the dense underbrush foraging for snacks he can be found perched stoically atop a large fallen tree — free to be a baboon.
Week after week of triple digit temperatures and less than one quarter of an inch of rain has left the entire area dry and dusty and it’s suddenly easy to visualize how deserts are formed. Fortunately our wells are still operating and the monkeys have become conditioned to the hotter weather and are all but finished with their seasonal molt.
June has been extremely hot with temperatures well above normal and no rain for relief. The grasses have dried and things a look a little barren but that’s to be expected with temperatures in the 100s week after week. Fortunately the mesquite and huisache continue to provide shade and show their hardiness as do the monkeys.
From Animal Issues, Volume 40 Number 2, Summer 2009
I had just returned to the office when Daniel, our site manager, came in to tell me that Gilbert, one of the long-tailed macaques, was acting strangely. We found him in the back of the enclosure hunched over by himself and very still. This was bad news from the start as this ex-“pet” was normally very rambunctious and always had an enthusiastic greeting for us. Primates, like other wild animals, often “mask” any signs of illness and it wasn’t hard to tell that we had to help him and quickly.
In the last post I said we were glad for the warming trend and relief from the cold — OK, enough with the heat, is Fall coming soon? It’s been in the mid to upper 90s for some time and we’re seeing the monkeys locating shade and water earlier in the afternoons. Though it’s hot and will be even hotter as summer arrives, there’s always some fun to be had by “kids” of any age (or species) as the picture shows.
Spring has arrived at the sanctuary and everyone (including humans) is enjoying the warmth and the return of the color green. While the winters here are relatively short, the cold nights can be taxing and we were all ready for the change. The old mesquite trees signal an end to winter when they emerge from dormancy and they are now flush with new growth. Though it remains very dry — only 3/4 inch of rain in over 2 months — everything is greening up nicely as the flora here is very hardy and wonderfully adapted to this environment.
From Animal Issues, Volume 40 Number 1, Spring 2009
I first volunteered at a sanctuary 18 years ago, starting out cleaning enclosures that housed rehabilitating animals. Soon enough I was serving as Assistant Director, Volunteer Coordinator, Safety Manager, and more. I cleaned cages (some things never change), assisted veterinarians, reared and rehabilitated native wild animals for release, developed protocols, conducted training, and designed and built enclosures.