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!
Rain has been forecast for the past few days, but so far the Sanctuary remains dry. Unfortunately we have not had good rainfall for many months.
A great food delivery this week — lots of avocados and strawberries. The monkeys enjoy both fruits, but the snow monkeys have a particular liking for strawberries. After a satisfying feast of strawberries, bright red lips are the norm.
Art, one of the longtail macaques who came to us from a laboratory earlier in the year, has started to wait for me at the gate to the longtail enclosure. Although nervous, his curiosity (and hunger, no doubt) get the better of him as he looks to see what food I am taking in each day for the group. He especially likes leafy lettuce and peanuts, so I try to make sure I have both. He also follows me around, at a “safe” distance, making appearances at the various food drop-off points. Art is one of the older longtails and spent 11 years in the laboratory before coming to us. Eleven years in a small metal cage and now he has the companionship of others in five acres of lush vegetation!
This week we continued with the introductions of one of the mixed groups of former “pet” macaques that include India, the young pig-tailed macaque. Over the past few weeks, we have gradually introduced various combinations of the individuals — the goal being to establish one large social group of seven individuals. The final introduction involved direct contact for the first time between Zach and Teddy (the two rhesus macaques in the group) and Joey, a crested black macaque.
Fall has arrived at the Sanctuary bringing a welcome drop in temperatures. The mornings are now cooler and the monkeys start their day by sitting as high as they can in the trees to catch those early morning rays from the sun. I saw my first armadillo of the fall this week, shuffling along the perimeter fence of the monkey enclosures, seemingly unperturbed by my presence.
A great week for the monkeys. We received hundreds of avocados, something all enjoy. The longtail macaques, in particular, were very excited and chattered to each other as they watched me, from a ‘safe’ place in the trees, putting out the fruit for them. In their enthusiasm, some of them even started to venture down from the trees before I had disappeared from their view. I will never tire of watching them sitting high up in the trees or running through the long grass after knowing the awful life they once lived in metal cages.
The Sanctuary has recently become home to three more macaques, all of whom had been kept as “pets.” Their “owner” had reached the right decision that he could no longer provide them with the environment they needed and although he was upset to re-home them, he knew that he was doing the right thing for their sakes as well as his own. As is typical with monkeys kept in private homes, they were behaving aggressively toward people and showed signs of abnormal behavior. In particular, Loekey, a young male snow monkey, threw himself around and started biting his arm.
From Animal Issues, Volume 39 Number 3, Fall 2008
This summer, Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary welcomed a large group of long-tailed macaques. The monkeys, many of them elderly, spent up to 13 years in laboratory research. The laboratory had ended its use of primates and decided to find a sanctuary for these animals to now live out the rest of their days in freedom in a natural environment.
This week we continued with the introduction of India, the recently rescued pig-tailed macaque, to other members of one of our macaque social groups. We opened up the door to enable Gilbert and India to go through to the enclosure shared by Florence and Justin, snow monkeys, and Joey, an older black-crested macaque. We were encouraged to watch the immediate rapport India developed with Joey. Within a short period, she was grooming him. Joey, never one to miss out on an opportunity like this, just relaxed on his back or side and enjoyed himself. It was also not long before India was playing with Justin and Florence, both of whom enjoy a good game of chase. It is so wonderful to watch these individuals playing with and grooming each other.