Tim Ajax

Sanctuary Blog

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!

A New Arrival

Published: 08/01/05

There’s a new face at the API Primate Sanctuary! In June, we welcomed our latest arrival, a snow monkey called Ollie, another casualty of the exotic pet trade.

Ollie is a little more than seven years old and, prior to coming to the Sanctuary, had been kept as a “pet” his whole life. Bought as a cute and cuddly infant, Ollie soon outgrew this “baby” image and reacted to his unnatural environment with aggressive and unpredictable behavior — which is of course natural, as he is a wild animal.

Having lived in social isolation from others of his kind, raised as if he was a human child, Ollie displays all the hallmarks of a disturbed and damaged individual. His behavior is abnormal — although it is typical for an animal who has been caged on her or his own for a long period of time in a non-stimulating environment. It is pitiful to watch as he sits on his rear end with both hind legs in the air, simultaneously or alternately hitting his head with his feet. He has a nervous disposition and vocalizes a lot, particularly when trying to gain the attention of his human caregivers.

Despite his abnormal behavior, Ollie appears to be settling in well at the Sanctuary, although it may take months before the snow monkey in him will truly flourish.

The first step API took in Ollie’s rehabilitation was to provide him with an enriched and stimulating environment. This should, in time, help diminish the abnormal behavior he currently exhibits. Augmenting this will be the presence of his neighbors, other snow monkeys who are also “former pets.” Despite his nervousness, Ollie is curious about these other snow monkey. In time, we hope to be able to allow direct contact between him and at least some of these other individuals.

API is glad to be able to offer Ollie a second chance at life. However, his arrival serves to remind us, once again, that wild animals such as nonhuman primates should not be kept as “pets.” They do not belong in human households. Raising them as if they were human children produces disturbed and dysfunctional individuals. When things start to go wrong in such situations — as they inevitably do — it is left to sanctuaries such as API’s to pick up the pieces of these shattered lives as best we can.

We will keep Sanctuary supporters apprised of Ollie’s progress as his rehabilitation continues.

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