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 Can See the Primates Are in Good Hands
The action continues as I regale you with another tale from my visit to the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary!
Because our sanctuary is not open to the public, I want to share a few highlights of the amazing (and backbreaking) work that goes on down there with a series of blogs. And if you want to help the monkeys, consider making a donation to the sanctuary. I can say for sure that every cent goes a long way toward giving our sanctuary residents the best care possible!
Witnessing natural animal behavior in person is a luxury few have the opportunity to experience. The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary staff members treasure this privilege and take pride in providing for residents of the sanctuary. Animal caregiver Juan Ramirez said working here and knowing he is caring for life make him glad to come to work each day. He mindfully spreads the food, making certain that each primate receives his or her fair share. It is obvious that these feelings are reciprocated by the animals. They are visibly calmer in the presence of the staff members, as opposed to newcomers.
Animal caregiver Oscar Garcia has been with these animals for nine years and is able to work around the enclosures with ease and handle food in front of the monkeys without causing anxiety. While making the rounds with fruits and veggies one morning, as I reached the bonnet macaque enclosure, I realized this wouldn’t be easy. The monkeys obviously became agitated by the appearance of a new human with their food. They seemed afraid to allow me to unlock the opening to their feeding area. Tiny hands reached out to try and grab me, and wide eyes and bared teeth declared fair warning.
I called to Oscar for assistance. With a knowing smile he approached the gate. The monkeys immediately calmed and gave Oscar space to place their food and kept their hands to themselves until he had delivered all the bananas and mangos. Oscar called to the monkeys by name, as he knows many of the 500-plus primates by name. They clearly recognized him and understood he was safe and there to help. I was humbled to see a relationship so filled with trust and respect.
There are so many fascinating and heartwarming aspects of life in this secluded 187-acre sanctuary. Roadrunners and armadillos roam the property, along with Mexican ground squirrels, but it is the primates who steal the show! Late in my visit, a sudden, violent downpour flooded the roads, watered the plants and inspired the monkeys into a most incredible display of calls. Baboons, vervets and bonnet macaques cooed and cawed to each other, and bounced around their enclosures with exceptional excitement on a dark and rainy day.
The cool weather was a very welcome reprieve from the hot and humid days of summer in this often desert-like climate. The monkeys loved it! At a time when they would usually be lounging in whatever shade was available, they were comfortably roaming their enclosures, soaking up the nurturing drops and showing off their wide range of vocal abilities.
I ran out just in time to record the calls of an old snow monkey to his roommate. Standing in the rain, trying to keep my camera dry, I was thankful for the opportunity to experience wildlife in a most natural state. I am proud and honored to raise funds for Born Free USA and play a small part in helping these nonhuman primates find a safe and peaceful home to live out their years. If you too would like to help the monkeys, adopt a primate or donate today!
(Background: As a Development Associate with Born Free USA, I spend 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 our sanctuary director Tim and his crew care for the primates for a week. It was hard work, but so rewarding!)