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!
As we move on into winter, the mesquite trees are going dormant and most of the native grasses have wasted away, relying on their hardy root system to bring them back next spring. This is the time of year the sanctuary looks barren and gray, but none of the wildlife, monkeys included, seems to notice. Red snow monkey faces peer out from between dried bunches of brown and gray grass and then disappear in a cloud of dust as another chase ensues.
The other day our manager, Traci Hanson, witnessed some interesting behavior, and when she related it to me I once again was reminded how important it is that captive primates have appropriate companionship. As Traci was making rounds she noticed that Ted, a male rhesus macaque, was involved in a particularly long session of self-biting. This stereotypic behavior is unfortunately quite common among primates bred for the pet industry, and once the behavior develops it often remains for life.
In this particular case Ted received some help from a fellow monkey whom he sometimes “disagrees” with. Joey, our resident crested black macaque, saw Ted biting his arm and went up to the fence separating the two and began to slam his hand on the fence. It was obvious to Traci that he was trying to get Ted’s attention. When Ted didn’t respond after several attempts, Joey trotted down the fence line, through the open guillotine gate and headed straight to Ted. When he got there Joey sat down and began to groom him vigorously. Ted quickly relaxed and ceased his biting — Joey had succeeded in distracting him and giving comfort.
We welcomed a very handsome, thick-furred male rhesus to the sanctuary today. Tyler is 10 years old and recently retired from research. He had a long ride from the airport in Austin (where American Airlines personnel treated him very kindly) but arrived in great shape and was very curious about his new surroundings. When I put him out in his new quarters he was very active and intense about watching everything going on around him — monkeys talking back and forth, Charles the vervet griping at Chango, humans walking back and forth doing who knew what. And then there was Maude. Seems Tyler took an instant liking to Maude, a fellow rhesus female, and he spent much of the day trying to get her attention and lip-smacking each time she looked over. Time will tell whether or not she’s as interested as he is, but Tyler’s certainly off to a good start.
Until next time…