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!

Rescuing Animals, Worldwide

From Animal Issues, Volume 39 Number 2, Summer 2008

Published: 06/30/08

“Keep Wildlife in the Wild” is more than just a slogan. It’s the bedrock philosophy of Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute and our colleagues at the UK-based Born Free Foundation. Together, the global Born Free family works tirelessly to save animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and give them lifetime care.

There are instances where rescued wildlife can be released to their natural habitats. But when this is not possible, Born Free works to place them in sanctuaries — including our own Primate Sanctuary in Texas – that can provide them with the freedom and natural environment they so richly deserve.

Below are just a few moving stories of our recent efforts.

Changing Lives
by Sarah Kite, Sanctuary Co-director

Tragically, every year, hundreds of nonhuman primates are in need of a home — whether casualties from the “pet” trade and entertainment business or retired from experimental testing laboratories. For many, the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary may be their only hope. In recent weeks we have been able to step in and help change the lives of three such individuals.

Elsie and Maude, two middle-aged female rhesus macaques, arrived at our Sanctuary in late spring after having spent years in a research laboratory. What a transformation to their lives! No longer experimental subjects, they are enjoying freedom, space, natural environment, and the companionship of other monkeys.

Although initially overwhelmed by the new sights, sounds, and smells at our Sanctuary, Maud and Elsie have settled in well to their new life. On their first day of freedom, they spent time just sitting and looking around them. They were particularly interested in watching the other monkeys in neighboring enclosures. Yet, despite their age and lack of agility, it was not long before they actively started to explore their new environment. Although wary of the ground, within an hour or so they had ventured down and started to walk around on the grass and soil. It was a wonderful and heartwarming sight ... monkeys who hours before had been housed in laboratory cages, now enjoying the warmth of the sun on their bodies, the texture of the soil beneath their feet, and the touch and taste of grass.

One of their favorite pastimes is to forage in the vegetation, picking and eating grass — something that they would never have been able to do in a sterile laboratory. Both monkeys are making friends with others who live nearby and Maude has even started to groom and be groomed by a male rhesus monkey next door. We are hoping that it will not be too long before they can join one of our established social groups.

Born Free USA united with API was also able to help with another primate rescue. An 8-year-old, black-tufted marmoset called Lilo, kept as a household “pet,” was recently confiscated by Animal Control in San Francisco. Lilo needed a home and, although we do not have marmosets at our own Sanctuary, we were pleased to be able to step in to ensure that Lilo went to an excellent sanctuary that can give him an opportunity to live a more natural life with other marmosets.

Sadly, not all primates are retired to sanctuaries. Maude and Elsie (and Lilo) are the lucky ones! Their future is now secure. We rely on the generosity of supporters like you to enable us to continue our critical work of rescue and rehabilitation.

You Can Help! Please donate today to ensure a brighter tomorrow for these primates and the many others who are currently languishing, longing for a better life. Nowhere else in the USA gives rescued monkeys the kind of freedom and life we offer at the Primate Sanctuary. Every individual owes a debt of gratitude to supporters like you. Many monkeys arrive at the Sanctuary at a young age and, given that they might live up to 30 years, this is a long-term commitment for Born Free USA united with API. Will you help us? Ensure they all enjoy a life worth living by “adopting” one of our residents. Contact Diana at 916-447-3085 x215 or development@bornfreeusa.org.

AWA Chronic Violator Is Shut Down
by Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., Senior Vice President

It is not a normal occurrence that a zoo with a chronic history of violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act is shut down — permanently — but that is exactly what a Summit County (Ohio) Judge recently ordered of L & L Exotics.

The court order is the culmination of more than two decades of dangerous and uncaring behavior by Lorenza Pearson, the owner of L & L Exotics. The tragic list of incidents at the facility includes the death of Pearson’s two-year-old son, mauled by a tiger in 1983; the mauling of his two-year-old grandson in 1998; and in 2006, an attack on a USDA veterinarian by a tiger and a fire that killed a black bear cub and two tiger cubs.

In 2007, Pearson’s USDA license was reportedly revoked and he was found guilty of 26 violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The presiding judge, Victor W. Palmer, commented that the violations were “in every sense egregious, obvious violations ... that substantially endangered the health and well-being of the animals Mr. Pearson kept at his facility.” Mr. Pearson was able to continue to operate pending his appeal of the license revocation.

When USDA again inspected in February 2008, ongoing violations were found of the federal Animal Welfare Act, putting both animals and the public at risk. This is the time that Summit County and Copley Township stepped in and filed a lawsuit against Mr. Pearson. The lawsuit requested that L & L Exotics be deemed a public nuisance and asked that the County be able to confiscate the animals on the property.

On May 9, 2008, the court held that “by clear and convincing evidence that the defendants (L&L Exotics) have continued to maintain exotic animals on this property, apparently without the will or perhaps the wherewithal to make changes to correct the problems their operations have caused, thereby causing the harms that have created the nuisance.” The judge also ordered the confiscation of the animal on the property and permanently banned Mr. Pearson from possessing exotic animals in the future.

In partnership with the authorities, Born Free USA united with API has located a sanctuary for the eight bears that were on the property. The bears have been relocated to Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, CO.

The closure of L&L Exotics is a perfect example as to why the private possession of exotic animals should be prohibited. Ohio is one of nine states that still have no state laws controlling the keeping of exotic animals by private individuals.

Born Free USA united with API has worked with Ohio Representative George Distel on HB 45, legislation which will regulate the private ownership of exotic animals such as lions, tigers, bears, and nonhuman primates. At press time, the bill was being held up by the Chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

Learn more: To find out how to help exotic animals in your community please contact advocacy@bornfreeusa.org.

Every Individual Matters
By Adam M. Roberts, Senior Vice President, Born Free USA
and Chris Wright, Programmes Officer, Born Free Foundation (UK)

An incalculable number of animals across the globe languish in squalid captive conditions to “entertain” humans — in zoos, circuses, and kept as “pets.” These innocent victims endure years of physical and mental suffering. They often live in confined spaces, are fed inappropriate or insufficient diets, and are denied access to quality veterinary care. Sadly, there are many instances when urgent appeals to rescue them from their desperate plight tragically go unanswered.

However, there are important, magical instances where we succeed, and working together with animal welfare law enforcement officers we confiscate live animals from appalling captive situations. For the lucky few, a Born Free Foundation rescue means lifetime care in an appropriate sanctuary and a life worth living.

Along with the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Texas, Born Free supports a number of amazing rescue centers. At the Elephant Transit Home in Sri Lanka, orphaned elephant calves are rehabilitated, offered veterinary treatment as needed, and ultimately released into the wild. Our tiger sanctuary in Bannerghatta National Park in Southern India affords each magnificent tiger in residence a high level of care, a hectare of forest to roam, night quarters, and a pool. And in South Africa, the Born Free’s two Big Cat Rescue Centres are situated within the award-winning Shamwari Wildlife Reserve, where lions and leopards live out their lives in three-acre natural vegetation bush camps, giving these big cats the space and privacy they have been denied for so many years.

Since 2000, Born Free has successfully rescued more than twenty big cats. None of them can be released into the wild because of their dependency on humans for food, their loss of hunting skills, and the severe mental or physical damage they have suffered.

Shada, a nervous lioness, spent eight years imprisoned in an 18' x 6' circus trailer in France. She had been brutally declawed by the circus owners so that she would pose less of a threat during training and performance sessions. Sinbad, a male lion rescued in August 2007 from a Romanian zoo, was exploited as a cub for tourist photographs. Malnourishment severely stunted his growth, guaranteeing that he would never be able to defend himself in the wild were he ever released.

More recently, Born Free secured the relocation of two leopards, Pitou (14) and Sirius (13) from Monaco Zoo, at the request of HSH Prince Albert II. Born Free vet John Knight, helped by the Prince, administered pre-departure sedatives and carried them to their special transport crates. From there they were trucked to Nice, France, and finally flown to Shamwari via London and Johannesburg.

The leopards were soon followed by young lion cub sisters Sarnia and Marina, born in Romania and found abandoned by a vet who sought our help.

The story of Born Free is one of hope. Born Free knows that the individual matters, and we should do all we can to rescue animals in need. We may be frustrated by those who simply don’t care, even in government, and hindered by a lack of funds, but we will always try to save the ones we can. Their individual plight deserves our attention, and each of them serves as an inspiration for all of their captive and wild relatives in need of protection.

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