Tim Ajax

The WAO Group

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!


A Little Help from a Friend

Published: 12/21/12

We were more than a little nervous about the introduction. Elvis had been through a tremendous amount of upheaval and instability in his short life, and we weren’t certain that his soon-to-be-roommate would be accepting of him. Both of these primates are victims of the exotic “pet” trade and were stolen from their biological mothers when only a few days old. They were then unnaturally reared by humans who thought they were “cute.”

In Elvis’ case the cuteness wore off very quickly and the woman who was attempting to rear him began looking around for a new home after her husband threatened to shoot the little 6-month-old. So Elvis was gathered up, separated from his human mother and sent to live with a friend in another state.

Elvis’ living condition improved somewhat, but he was forced into a dark carrier each night because he already was becoming too unruly in the household. The separations were hard on Elvis. In the wild he would have spent almost every moment of each day with his mother. She never would have confined him to a cage or denied him her expert care.

But when allowed their freedom in human households, even young monkeys become highly destructive and can be a danger to themselves (and, when they grow older, to others as well). They can open just about anything a human can and can climb places that human children could never get to. Nothing is truly out of reach or protected when a monkey roams the house, and everything in sight is tasted and chewed on.

Elvis was growing larger and exhibiting more of his wild behavior each day. When law enforcement officials became aware of Elvis’ presence in the community, the owners were notified that they would have to surrender little Elvis, move somewhere else with him, or face stiff fines. Already not sure what they were going to do as he continued to grow, they surrendered him to the Mesker Park Zoo in Indiana, which promptly contacted the Born Free Primate Sanctuary to see if we might have room for him.

While Elvis adjusted to the experienced care of the zoo personnel we met to decide whether we could help him. At his age he would need a great deal of hands-on care, and with what he had been through a lot of patience would be needed as he worked through his insecurities.

After meeting with our staff I felt certain we could provide the needed care to help Elvis become whole and eventually live life as free as possible given his circumstances. Arrangements were soon made to fly him down to us.

Elvis was keyed up from the moment he arrived, and though we took him out to his new enclosure every day and staff members spent every free moment with him, he still was too anxious and would scream and bark any time a human male came near.

We thought through a number of scenarios and one of those kept returning to the discussion: What might Freeman think of this little guy? Freeman had put on weight and developed some muscle and agility and was in a large enclosure, but he was by himself. We were going to move him next to some of the WAO long-tails to see if he could get along there, but now wondered if he might make a good neighbor for little Elvis.

Under strict supervision little Elvis was let out into a section next to Freeman. They would not be together but would have direct contact through the fence, and with Freeman’s razor-sharp, 2-inch canines, we knew that things could go bad very quickly.

Ready to pounce and intervene at a moment’s notice we watched as Freeman sauntered up to the fence, sat down and began lip-smacking at Elvis. OK, so far so good. Then bold little Elvis ran right up to husky Freeman, did a cursory lip-smack, launched himself at the fence and began a round of play fighting.

We watched (and cringed) as they tugged at each other and play-bit each other through the fence, Freeman’s huge canines wrapped around Elvis’s little arm (and leg and tail and head). Elvis finally wore out his welcome and patient Freeman walked off to relax until the next round started.

We had just witnessed yet another example of how monkeys provide each other with the type of interaction and stimulus that humans cannot approach.

Elvis and Freeman still rough-house and Freeman is still very patient with the young baboon, each of them benefitting from the other’s presence and escaping their troubled pasts.

Please consider making a donation today so we can continue to be your loving hands, watchful eyes and generous heart assisting these wonderful animals in need.

Happy Holidays!

Tim


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