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!
It is with mixed feelings that I write this week’s Primate Posting. Sadly, Holly, one of the female baboons has died.
Considering Holly's horrible start in life (she was used in laboratory drug addiction experiments), it is remarkable that she lived to such an age (around 28 years). I was comforted by the knowledge that for the last few years of her life she lived in a natural environment, far removed from the metal bars of a laboratory cage. She also had the companionship of other baboons, in particular Boon, a male who lived with her in their own enclosure attached to the free range baboon enclosure.
Boon was devoted to Holly and I was concerned about his reaction to Holly's death. He is a former "pet," who arrived at the Sanctuary in a poor mental and physical state, displaying severe stereotypic and self-injurious behavior. Despite considerable improvement during his time here, he still reverts back to such behavior when he becomes distressed. To minimize this, upon Holly's death, he was released into the free-range baboon enclosure along with the rest of the baboons whom he knew well, having lived alongside them. It took him a while to go through the door, but once he made the plunge, he just ran and ran. It was wonderful to see him running freely through the grass — probably for the first time in his life. He ran or walked around the entire perimeter of the enclosure, clearly enjoying his new environment.
Despite my sadness over Holly’s death, I must prepare to welcome a new group of macaques who have just arrived at the Sanctuary after years spent in a laboratory. Like Holly, they will be given a second chance at a more natural life.
More about that next week.