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!

Object of desire

Published: 06/29/09

June has been extremely hot with temperatures well above normal and no rain for relief. The grasses have dried and things a look a little barren but that’s to be expected with temperatures in the 100s week after week. Fortunately the mesquite and huisache continue to provide shade and show their hardiness as do the monkeys.

Despite the searing heat it’s quite common to see snow monkeys chasing each other across the enclosures. I continue to be amazed at their resiliency and their knack for making a game out of any situation. Even the puddles that form after cleaning the water tanks provide the perfect opportunity for monkey fun as they splash, pounce, and chase each other while making certain that we get a decent splashing as well. We’ve excavated a small area in the large Northwest enclosure to serve as a pond and the snow monkeys there enjoy it throughout the day. Though it’s shallow they don’t hesitate to throw their bodies chest first into the pond while the older monkeys sit and watch the antics.

The produce deliveries have been extremely good with a nice variety of fruits and vegetables. We recently received over 500 cases of sweet, juicy pineapples which everyone enjoyed. Some monkeys sat down on the ground holding a giant slice of pineapple in their lap eating it like a watermelon and others left the slices yellow-side up where they lay and just bent over and gorged.

Several weeks ago we received a large load of dessert mangos. These are the small, delicious yellow mangos that we only see certain times of the year. These were enjoyed by everyone, but the Baboons were almost delirious with anticipation when they spied the fruit being emptied from the cartons. The Baboons are very inquisitive and they often crane their necks and jostle each other for a better viewing position to see what’s on the menu for the day. When one of them saw the mangos he started vocalizing excitedly and that brought over several others who joined the chorus. These guys really love their mangos and dove in with a relish, plopping down on their large rears in deep concentration to enjoy the sweet bounty.

The long-tailed macaques continue to do well in their new home and they’ve become very athletic, despite their age. It can take a long time to gain strength and agility after being cage-housed for so long but these guys are doing very well. They watch from the woods as we feed the baboons and then the baboons watch from their enclosure as we take care of the macaques. I can only wonder at what they’re thinking while quietly watching each other across the road but I doubt it’s anything hostile since the baboons get agitated and stare us down any time one of the macaques issues an alarm call while we’re nearby.

Until next time ...


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