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!


Treats (and a little trick)

Published: 11/13/09

A Hamadryas baboon enjoys a tasty pumpkin.

Relief from the unusually hot and dry summer has arrived. Daytime highs in the low 80s and overnight lows in the upper 50s make it very pleasant. With some good rainfall in October the area has turned lush and we stay busy keeping fence-lines mowed and doing our best to catch up on smaller projects.

Tens of thousands of butterflies representing quite a variety of species have been present for so long now that we almost take them for granted — almost. Migratory birds that overwinter in south Texas are making their way into the dense brush and riparian areas on the property and it seems like every day I hear a new song.

All the primates were treated to several good-sized deliveries of fresh pumpkins which they thoroughly enjoyed. The seeds appear to be the best part of a pumpkin and it was intriguing to watch the different approaches to eating them. The snow monkeys tend to leave them on the ground and scoop and stuff while the baboons sit down and hold them in their hands using their teeth to seine the seeds from the pulp. Each to his or her own, but the result was the same: tasty snacks to enjoy on mild autumn days.

As the daylight hours continue to decrease we see the monkeys putting on a thicker coat to help them through the cool nights and this is the time of year where we begin additional feedings to make sure everyone is taking in enough calories to burn to keep them warm.

While the monkeys were enjoying their pumpkin treats I was busy cleaning one of the enclosures when I kept having problems with the water pressure. We were almost through with the water upgrade project which would cure this malady but since no one else was using any water I couldn’t understand why there was a problem just then. The pressure would be fine and then suddenly the hose would cough and hiss and — nothing, no water. Just as suddenly it would come on full blast. After several minutes of this I decided to see what was going on. Maybe the pump was finally on its last legs or maybe the well was giving out entirely.

I turned to head to the well, took about 10 steps around the enclosure, and came face to face with Frankie, an ex-“pet” snow monkey, who had managed to pull about 3 feet of the hose into his enclosure. Sitting there on the grass he looked up at me and very neatly pushed two parts of the hose together across his chest effectively cutting off all water to the end. Without breaking eye contact he slowly spread his arms releasing the pressure. He did this several times as if to make sure I understood that he held the key to my successful cleaning. Evidently content with himself he set the hose down, jumped up on a platform, rolled on his back, and stretched out under the deep blue Texas sun for one of those great monkey naps.

As I returned to my cleaning I kept a sharp eye out for any suspicious movement of the hose but Frankie was through with his tricks — for now.


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