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!

Freedom at Last

From Animal Issues, Volume 39 Number 3, Fall 2008

Published: 09/30/08

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.

The transformation in these monkeys’ lives has been amazing. After spending years living in metal cages, they can at last experience fresh air, soil and grass beneath their feet, the warmth of the sun, and each other. Most of them had been individually housed. After release from their transit crates, it was heartwarming to watch them greet each other by chattering and reaching out to grab arms and legs. During those first few days many stumbled around their enclosure, trying to climb onto logs but falling off because of poor coordination and muscle tone after years of living without space to exercise. Others just sat and looked around, clearly overwhelmed by the new environment.

Soon they happily started to adapt to a life outside a laboratory cage — cautiously climbing around their enclosure, digging in the soil, socializing, even playing and chasing each other. They particularly enjoy the variety of fruit and vegetables we gave them and have a soft spot for mangoes and apples. They also enjoy splashing around in mud and water.

After acclimatization and rehabilitation in a temporary semi-natural enclosure, we released these individuals into a natural, free-range enclosure of five acres covered with trees and other thick vegetation. After years of living in metal cages, these monkeys are now living freely in a natural environment and can roam across acres of lush green vegetation, climb and leap through trees, play, forage in the grass and soil and just be monkeys. Thanks to the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, this is their new life.

Update: Maude and Elsie, the two female rhesus macaques who retired after spending years in a laboratory (more here), have settled in to their new life. They have been introduced into an existing social group of macaques and are clearly enjoying the companionship and stimulation group living provides.

You Can Help! Fortunately for all these individuals, the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary was able to step in to provide lifetime care. However, many other monkeys are also in need. For one or more individuals, your financial contribution could make a difference between life and death. Please support our vital work of rescuing and rehabilitating monkeys at www.bornfreeusa.org/sanctuaryfund or call (916) 447-3085 x215.

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