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!

Increasing Social Opportunities

From Animal Issues, Volume 39 Number 4, Winter 2008/09

Published: 01/15/09

Life for many of the primates prior to their arrival at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary is one of social isolation from other monkeys. Whether it be a monkey kept as a “pet” and raised in a human household or a monkey singly housed in a small, barren, metal cage in a laboratory, probably the most negative factor that impacts on their emotional and psychological well-being is the lack of social contact, whether it be in the form of playing or grooming, with others of their kind.

Social contacts, along with an enriched natural environment, are the two most important ways we help rehabilitate monkeys and enable them to start to live a life close to normal for a monkey. Sadly for some, particularly those who have been on their own for many years, the transformation can be very difficult and certain individuals who do not possess the necessary social skills may never truly settle into a social group.

During the past few months, the Sanctuary has been busy welcoming new arrivals and providing opportunities to initiate or increase social contact between individuals. In past editions of Animal Issues (Spring 2007, Winter 2007, and Spring 2008), we updated supporters on the arrival of a number of monkeys kept as “pets” who were for the most part raised without the companionship of other monkeys. These monkeys included Zach, Teddy, Gilbert, Florence, and Justin. All five have been living as one social group following the arrival of Florence, a young snow monkey (Animal Issues, Spring 2008). To this mix, we have since introduced India and Joey, both former “pets.” India, a young female pig-tailed macaque, came to us after having been confiscated from her “owners.” Joey, a crested black macaque, lived with another monkey, but his “owner” realized he would be better off at our Sanctuary.

We are cautiously optimistic that this new social group of Joey, Teddy, Zach, India, Gilbert, Florence, and Justin will continue as a stable group. These individuals will benefit from the extra companionship provided by each other as well as the extra space they now have since we opened up two large enclosures.

Logan, a 12-year-old “pet” snow monkey, was a typical example of a monkey who had been raised in a human household. Before his arrival at the Sanctuary, he had not been with or even seen another nonhuman primate since he was just a few weeks old. His “owners” had spent many months deliberating before reaching the difficult, but correct, decision to enable their much-loved monkey to live in a natural environment with others of his kind. During his first few weeks with us, he was apprehensive and withdrawn and understandably overwhelmed by his new surroundings and the other monkeys. This is not surprising considering he had never socialized with another monkey. He did not know what to do. To help bring him out of himself, we introduced him to Frankie, a playful young snow monkey who had shown an interest in Logan. Frankie’s friendly disposition and companionship eventually helped and it was not too long before Frankie started grooming Logan.

What a difference the Sanctuary has made in these individuals’ lives! After years of living on their own, they can at last enjoy the companionship, stimulation and emotional support of others of their kind.

You Can Help. “Adopt” a primate today! You’ll receive an Adoption Welcome Kit, including a biography, full-color photo, a Certificate of Adoption, a special gift, and The Primate Post. Visit www.bornfreeusa.org/sanctuary or call 916-447-3085 x213.

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