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!
Born Free USA’s Lorry Marvin Watches Chatter Explore His New Digs
Being a development associate with Born Free USA involves a lot of time indoors, behind a computer. One of my responsibilities here is to help raise money for our 500 primates living as free as they can be at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary — so I jumped at the chance to get outside (in the hot Texas heat, no less) to help the sanctuary’s director, Tim Ajax, and his crew care for the primates for a week. It was hard work, but so rewarding!
Because our sanctuary is not open to the public, I want to share a few highlights of the amazing (and back-breaking) work that goes on down there with a series of blogs. And if you want to help the monkeys, consider a donation to the sanctuary. I can say for sure that every cent goes a long way to help give our sanctuary residents the best care possible.
Starting my day by throwing cantaloupes, bananas other treats to monkeys literally hanging from trees is my idea of a great vacation! Of all the places I have traveled to in this world, from beaches in Micronesia to jungles in Puerto Rico to ancient cities in Italy, the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary is one of the most wondrous. I witnessed ex-pet monkeys and lab retirees learn natural primate behavior. I watched relatives groom each other between enclosures. I helped the animal caregivers distribute food and water to each monkey at the sanctuary. I was even fortunate enough to assist Tim in transferring a recently arrived lab monkey from a small metal cage, where he was in quarantine, to a large enclosure with two roommates and many monkey neighbors.
Chatter is a mild-mannered, 6-year-old long-tailed macaque and one lucky monkey! Introducing a primate to a new space is always a nerve-wracking process. Primates could reject each other, resulting in social exclusion and sometimes painful wounds. As the time for transfer came near, my heart raced in anticipation. Would he show aggression toward the other monkeys? Would he possibly start a fight? How would he react to such an open, large space compared to the narrow cage of his previous life? I was so nervous for this young male venturing out to new territory.
Tim gently placed the transfer carrier against the gate to the new enclosure. He swiftly lifted the barrier and Chatter was out like a shot!
I was shocked at how adventurously Chatter explored his new surroundings. He immediately leapt onto a low branch and climbed as high as the beams allowed. His neighbors were very curious and approached the bordering fence to investigate this new arrival and decide whether he was friend or foe. Chatter was friendly, showing no signs of aggression or retreating, as the bonnet macaques came close and made faces at him. Seeing that Chatter meant no harm, the tension in the bonnets eased and they sat back to observe their new housemate. Chatter also relaxed and explored further, discovering a man-made wooden home where he could find solace at moments of insecurity. He then came across a feeding platform, still containing leftovers from breakfast. It was heartwarming to see how easily Chatter took to his new home.
I admired Chatter as he ran around his enclosure, inspecting each corner and enjoying his newfound freedom. I was honored to have witnessed this touching event and I am honored and inspired to help make this possible for others in the future.