May 2008 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!
Sometimes, new residents aren't bothered by a little dirt in their new surroundings. Not long after a group of 31 long-tail macaques rescued from a laboratory arrived at the sanctuary, they started digging in the soil. Many of them splashed around in the mud and water after their water troughs had been emptied, prompting the sanctuary's human workers to make mud puddles for the monkeys to enjoy during hot Texas days. The primates got very excited and gathered around to drink, splash or simply sit in the water. By July, all the rescued macaques were living in the new 5-acre, free-range enclosure, spending afternoons relaxing, grooming each other, sleeping and lazing around in — you guessed it — the water and mud.
Once released into their new 5-acre enclosure, most of the monkeys immediately disappeared into the thick undergrowth. There they remained for the next few days. Aside from providing food and water each day, the sanctuary's human team left them undisturbed so they could explore their new home on their own.
"We could only imagine what must have been going on in that enclosure as the monkeys adjusted to the space and complexity of their new environment," the sanctuary's co-director wrote in September 2008. "We could hear them deep in the woods calling out to each other, but could not see them. With the sounds of insects and birds filling the air, and the humidity and wet foliage from days of rain, it was almost as if they were deep in a jungle.
"Within a few days, we caught the occasional glimpse of an individual as the monkeys began to venture out from the center of their enclosure. Then we started to hear the crackle of branches, and up in the trees first one, then another, and another appeared. It was wonderful to see them sitting right in the treetops, leaping from one branch to the next.
"It has truly been emotional and moving to watch these monkeys experience their new found freedom. Although we have not been able to return them to their native habitat, we believe that, in a way, we have returned them to the wild."
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.