July 2010 Rescue 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!
When one door closes, another one opens, and the transition can be a wonderful thing. Following the closing of an East Coast pharmaceutical laboratory, 15 long-tailed macaques received a second chance at life — a peaceful retirement at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary. They arrived on Saturday, July 17, safe and sound after a 1,700-mile journey. The monkeys, all males weighing between 9 and 15 pounds and younger than 6 (long-tail macaques can live up to 30 years), initially were evaluated in temporary cages in a climate-controlled room. Soon after, Sanctuary Director Tim Ajax began the slow, delicate task of transitioning the rescues to a 5-acre enclosure with trees, grass and lots of other macaques.
The challenges ahead for these animals lie in attempting to reduce the effects of being singly housed for most of their lives," Ajax said shortly after the macaques' arrival at the sanctuary. "Primates are highly social beings and suffer significantly when denied direct social interaction and appropriate environments to explore. They may develop self-destructive behavior such as apathy, excessive aggression, self mutilation and other disturbing acts in an attempt to alleviate stress.
"Unfortunately, they often show a reduced capacity for communicating appropriately with others of their own kind. These are all reasons why we must take care to evaluate their behaviors and compatibility."
Ajax said their rehabilitation would focus on creating social opportunities and observing preferences in an attempt to form one or more cohesive groups, gradual introduction to a more fruit-based natural diet, gradual adaptation to the south Texas environment, and introduction to the sanctuary's existing long-tailed macaques.
"The residents of our U.S. sanctuary are very fortunate now to have an opportunity to live out the rest of their lives in a natural environment where we can be sure that no one will ever hurt them again," said Will Travers, Born Free USA's chief executive officer. "But the bigger global tragedy is that wild animals are exploited in the first place and that such sanctuaries need to exist at all. Wildlife must be kept in the wild. Not in labs, not in people's homes, not in zoos."
The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary's mission is to provide nonhuman primates as high a quality of life as possible, with as little human interference as possible. The 186-acre facility, an hour and a half outside of San Antonio, Texas, is home to more than 500 individuals, and recognizes the importance of social companionship, group living, space and an enriching environment to meet as best as possible, the physiological, social, behavioral and psychological needs of its residents. In order to allow the residents the maximum amount of privacy and minimal human interference, the sanctuary is not open to the public.National Anti-Vivisection Society.