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!
Spring has arrived at the sanctuary and everyone (including humans) is enjoying the warmth and the return of the color green. While the winters here are relatively short, the cold nights can be taxing and we were all ready for the change. The old mesquite trees signal an end to winter when they emerge from dormancy and they are now flush with new growth. Though it remains very dry — only 3/4 inch of rain in over 2 months — everything is greening up nicely as the flora here is very hardy and wonderfully adapted to this environment.
A large number of species of birds use south Texas as their wintering ground and we’ve all gotten used to their continual presence, but with the onset of spring the air is filled with a diversity of song that’s simply incredible to hear as the local species get busy with the business of life. Nests occupy many of the trees and in the long-tailed macaque enclosure there are at least 2 pairs of gorgeous Audubon’s Orioles who are so shy I only see them for a couple of seconds at a time before they’re off again. I’ll post here if I ever get lucky enough to get a photo of them.
The monkeys have picked up their energy level and busy themselves investigating every new growth. While they never vary too much from their routines of foraging, playing, resting, and grooming, they engage in these activities a little more energetically now. It’s truly a wonderful privilege to see these incredible animals interacting in spacious environments where they have the opportunity to choose where they will go, what they will do, and who they will do it with. And make choices they do — I watched fascinated for almost 10 minutes while a large robust male snow monkey named Moe systematically picked through a bucket of monkey chow, discarding most of the biscuits and stuffing only a select few into his ample cheek pouches. To me all the biscuits looked the same and I couldn’t see any reason why so many would be rejected (I even picked up a few and gave them a good sniff) but it was apparent by his actions that he was intent on collecting only the very best of the lot based on a criterion known only to him. Of course he could afford to be selective since he had already enthusiastically gorged on a perfectly innocent bunch of large yellow-green bananas.
Until next time ...