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!
More rain this week. The Sanctuary is certainly looking a lot fresher and greener. There is again plenty of vegetation in which the monkeys can play and forage.
Lots of rain this week and cooler temperatures, which made a pleasant change to the searing heat we have had for much of the summer. Many of the monkeys enjoy the rain, especially the snow monkeys, some of whom will simply sit in the open and receive a good soaking. They like to splash around in the mud and puddles. Others will seek shelter and watch from a dry position. For example, the bonnets do not like getting wet, so the rain is not fun for them. In fact, Marco, the oldest male who spent 18 years living under laboratory conditions, is very particular about the weather.
India and Gilbert have bonded well. They spend a lot of time together, eating, playing and grooming each other. I never tire of watching them together. India has also established a good relationship with Teddy and Zach. Her confidence is growing and she has become bolder and more vocal.
India, the newly arrived pig-tailed macaque, has settled in well. She had a busy week getting to know the individuals from the social group in the adjoining enclosure, all former “pets.” They were very welcoming to her, and within just a few days she was grooming and being groomed through the dividing panel. The contact was so positive that we decided to move forward with her socialization into this group.
The arrival of India, a female pig-tailed macaque, caused quite a stir this week. Kept as a “pet,” she was confiscated from her “owners.” We have housed her in an introduction pen next to one of our mixed macaque social groups, which includes Gilbert, Teddy, and Justin. Gilbert was beside himself with excitement and approached India straight away. He chattered to her, eager to make contact through the fence. Although she was slightly apprehensive at first, it wasn’t long before India and Gilbert were playfully touching each other. She did the same with Teddy. It shouldn’t be too long before she will be able to join them.
We were fortunate not to suffer the severe storms that hit most of south Texas last week in the wake of Hurricane Dolly. We experienced rain, strong winds and a slight cooling in temperature.
We had a good delivery of fruit this week and, after many months bananas have finally come down in price. One of the things I enjoy is watching how individual monkeys eat. They each have their own particular way of preparing the food before eating it. Most will peel the skin off fruits such as bananas or tangerines with their fingers or teeth before eating it. However, Marco, a 20-year-old bonnet macaque, will bite off the tip of the banana and then squeeze the banana through the opening created using his teeth. Sometimes he will eat both the fruit and skin.
After a week of regular rain showers, the Sanctuary has turned a nice shade of green. With the cooler temperatures, the monkeys have been active throughout the day, foraging, eating, playing with and chasing each other. But, now we’re back into the dry heat and they are spending their afternoons seeking shade and sleeping among the trees and other vegetation in the enclosures.