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!
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.
Winnie, the recently arrived rhesus macaque retired from research, continues to do well. She has settled into her new life and is certainly enjoying the fresh and varied fruit and vegetables we are providing her. She patiently sits and watches if monkeys in the nearby enclosures are fed before her, taking a keen interest in what is going on, vocalizing as if to tell me that she is still waiting.
Winnie, a 15-year-old rhesus macaque, arrived at the Sanctuary this week. She came to us after having spent many years in a research laboratory. This is probably the first time she has ever been outdoors and experienced fresh air and sunshine.
From Animal Issues, Volume 39 Number 4, Winter 2008/09
Life for many of the primates prior to their arrival at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary is one of social isolation from other monkeys. Whether it be a monkey kept as a “pet” and raised in a human household or a monkey singly housed in a small, barren, metal cage in a laboratory, probably the most negative factor that impacts on their emotional and psychological well-being is the lack of social contact, whether it be in the form of playing or grooming, with others of their kind.
While most of the country seems to have suffered severe winter storms over the holiday period, we got off lightly with just a couple of cool days before the temperatures hit the 80s again. What a difference the sunshine makes to the monkeys’ daily lives (and to us humans)! They so enjoy just soaking it up, lying around lazily, sleeping and grooming each other.
A varied week on the weather front. On Sunday, the monkeys were enjoying a sunny afternoon as temperatures hit the 80s. By Monday morning, however, that had all changed. The sky was cloudy as the temperature dipped to around 50. It won’t be too long, however, before the temperatures rise again. The sun usually shines all year round here in South Texas.
A busy week for the Sanctuary. Work has started on the construction of a much needed utility building. This will help make day-to-day work at the Sanctuary much smoother. The building will contain a new monkey food preparation area.
Loekey is settling well into his new surroundings. He has already started to have contact with the three boys in the enclosure next to him — McKenzie, Ollie, and Oscar. Oscar is the boss with a rather laid back attitude, although he does enjoy a game of chase and tag and is strongly protective of McKenzie. Ollie is the lowest ranking in the group. He really enjoys playing on the swing and often spends long periods swinging fast and high. Of the three, McKenzie is the most active and sociable and this past week I saw him grooming Loekey through the partition between the enclosures. This is encouraging.