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!

It’s Elemental: Simple Sanctuary Upgrades & A Break from the Texas Heat

From Animal Issues, Volume 40 Number 4, Winter 2009

Published: 11/16/09

Throughout the long, tough summer we managed to get quite a bit done for the Sanctuary. But activity really picked up as Fall brought cooler temperatures and better working conditions. There were two main issues on our plate that we were determined to push through and I’m happy to say we’ve had great success, thanks in large part to our hard-working staff and the generosity of our supporters and foundations.

First up was improving the water quality here at the Sanctuary. The well water was extremely hard, full of iron and other minerals, and over time caused considerable damage to pipes, appliances, and fixtures as well as being generally unsuitable to drink. We could have had a company drill deeper to better water but at 5,000 feet the cost was prohibitive. The next best bet was to use what we had but condition it and add storage at the same time.

This was not a simple project. Due to the heat and other factors it took quite a bit of time to accomplish. The hard work has paid off. The water from the well is pumped through an initial sediment screen, and then has the iron removed with a special filter. After that it goes to the storage tanks where ozone is percolated through the water to kill pathogens and bacteria. From there it gets pumped to wherever the water is needed using a high volume pressure system. Finally, the residences were fitted with professional water conditioners to protect the appliances and fixtures. The animals now have healthier and better tasting water, we have proper water pressure to enable us to clean multiple areas at the same time, and we also have the added safety net of water storage should the well fail or for some reason we need to have water trucked in. This is a major upgrade, which could only be accomplished with your support.

The second issue to be addressed was the need to start adding additional shelters to some of the enclosures and replace those which were heavily damaged by enthusiastic monkeys and the elements.

Traditionally we had used wood for the shelters but the hot Texas sun makes short work of them and the constant onslaught of playing monkeys means that these shelters don’t last very long at all. We decided that rather than continue using resources to build structures that had to be replaced frequently we would instead spend more money initially and use steel for the construction. The steel structures should last 15 to 20 years as compared to 1 to 2 years for the wood shelters, saving labor and materials over the long run and providing a better quality shelter that can stand up to our challenging environment. We already have several in place and with your generosity we hope to have at least 10 to 15 more constructed in the next 6 to 8 months.

Thank you from everyone here at the Sanctuary and best wishes for a joyous Holiday Season.

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