The Lucky Nine
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!
What an exciting week we’ve had at the Sanctuary. In the sweltering south Texas heat, a crew from Texas Purple Sage Services and our dedicated staff built a more than half-acre enclosure, complete with climbing structures, shelters, native habitat, and five 20’ x 20’ covered safety areas to welcome our newest residents. We’ve spent months preparing for the arrival of nine new baboons and on September 17, 2013, the big day finally came.
After a long road trip from New York, the nine female baboons arrived at their new home around ten in the morning, peering out curiously from the transport crates. When released into the safety areas, some bolted out of the crates as fast as the doors were opened, while others walked calmly out into their new lives, looking around to cautiously survey the area.
Pearl, Missy, Chloe, April, Friendly, Spicey, Brooke, Kennedy, and Lulu, ages 13-23, were recently retired from a research program at a national laboratory, thanks to the concern of staff there. In the lab, they’d been housed in separate cages for most of their lives, and had never stepped foot outside. Now, they begin settling into a more natural life at the Sanctuary: days filled with sunshine, grass, trees, and the company of other baboons. Born Free USA’s Executive Vice President, Adam Roberts, referred to these baboons as the “lucky nine.”
However, after their confined lives in the lab, it may take a bit of time for these baboons to get used to socializing with each other and to gain muscle tone. This process can take a good deal of time as the girls learn each other’s personalities, likes, and dislikes – not to mention who ranks where in the social structure. Eventually, we hope to integrate them into a 2.5 acre enclosure where 10 other baboons currently reside, but we’ll only initiate this move once it’s clear that these new baboons are ready.
What a life-changing move this was for the lucky nine. We could tell that the moment was not lost on the baboons when Brooke, as soon as she was released, ran over and reached through the fence of the covered safety area to touch grass for the first time. With space to roam, nutritious food to eat, the opportunity to socialize, and a dedicated team of caretakers to nurture them, these baboons have a second chance at happier lives.
We will certainly do all that we can to ease our new residents through this transition and into the next phase of their lives. Will you join us by making a donation to help fund a lifetime of care for these brave, lucky nine?