The WAO Group
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!
On Nov. 21, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, ruled in favor of the transfer of 113 animals — 112 macaques and one baboon — from the now defunct Wild Animal Orphanage (WAO) in San Antonio, Texas, to The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley, Texas. This is thought to be one of the largest rescues of macaques in history.
Born Free USA To Rescue More Than 100 Animals
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.
Spring has arrived in all its glory, and with recent drought-quenching rains the sanctuary is busy with the colors and sounds of nature — and construction.
Work has begun in earnest as we prepare for the arrival of the primates from the bankrupt Wild Animal Orphanage in nearby San Antonio. More than 100 monkeys and one baboon soon will be transferred to their new home in south Texas.
The happy ending of a two-year saga for 106 macaques and one baboon is finally here. On Wednesday (July 25) the first group of these animals — 10 stump-tailed macaques — are scheduled to be transported from their former home at the now-closed Wild Animal Orphanage (WAO) in San Antonio to their new home at the 186-acre Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, about an hour away.
Here's how the Wild Animal Orphanage (WAO) Group rescue's first stage unfolded, as told by sanctuary Direct Tim Ajax:
Watch videos of the rescue!
One of the new arrivals on July 25, 2012.
(Photo by Tim Ajax)
Wednesday, July 25: Some exciting news from our Primate Sanctuary in south Texas! The first move of 10 stump-tailed macaques (out of the 107 we will welcome to our sanctuary in the coming weeks from the bankrupt Wild Animal Orphanage) went like clockwork and everyone came through in great shape.
Here are Sanctuary Tim Ajax's Facebook page posts about the Wild Animal Orphanage rescue as it continued to unfold in the summer of 2012:
Monday, Sept. 17: We’ve finally cooled down a bit as weekend storms dumped about 4 inches of badly needed rain on the sanctuary. This is the first rain the WAO monkeys have seen after being relocated to their new homes.
We were curious to see if they used the big shelters to keep out of the rain, but old and young alike were out playing in the wet stuff, even in the downpours. Stump-tails were swaying in the branches or clearing water off their platforms by sweeping their hands back and forth, and the entire hybrid group was out playing in puddles or chasing each other across the trampoline-like shade sails. Every now and then one of them would shake back and forth rapidly and water would fly in every direction, drenching any monkey within range.
Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary Director Tim Ajax continues to post on Facebook as the Wild Animal Orphanage rescue enters its final days.
Wednesday, Sept. 26: It’s almost hard to believe but the very last of the primates from the Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio arrived here late this afternoon. Kaleb, a hamadryas baboon, and 17 long-tails made the final trip down and were introduced to their new homes under bright blue south Texas skies.
After all these months of hard work involving so many compassionate, dedicated people, it feels a little anti-climactic for this huge rescue to be concluded.
Staff member Shanay Dickey has been spending some quality time with the WAO stumptails. She writes:
"Dewey is the youngest stump-tail macaque who has joined our sanctuary from the recent WAO rescue. He often is seen playing on the new 'spider' climbing structures and bouncing on the shade-sails that double as a trampoline for the more adventurous monkeys. While this playful behavior is quite entertaining to watch, there are also heartwarming moments.