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!
2013 is winding down, and time has sure flown by! This will be my last blog of the year, so I want to take the opportunity to look back on our Sanctuary’s 2013 highlights.
The year started out slowly, but we quickly gained momentum. In April, we enjoyed the addition of one very special primate: Buddy Holly, the young male baboon. Buddy Holly quickly became a Sanctuary favorite. A former pet, he has blossomed into an active, playful, energetic boy! Today, you can find Buddy Holly and his primate friend, Elvis, gallivanting around their enclosure, jumping on their trampoline, or grooming each other. It’s quite rewarding to see these two revel in each other’s company, like two young primates should. We’re grateful to provide both Buddy Holly and Elvis with happy, healthy, enriching lives here at the Sanctuary.
As summer approached, south Texas sweltered under scorching, record high temperatures along with a record-setting drought. This region typically reaches highs in the 100s from July until October—so we work hard to keep the monkeys comfortable in the heat. The primates have access to shade (both natural and man-made) where they can keep cool. Our large 56-acre main enclosure features two ponds, and, on the hottest days, the younger monkeys swung and jumped from trees, splashing into the water with joy. Even the elder member of the troop entered the water for a dip. Check out the action in this fun video!
By the fall, the temperatures had dropped—but our year was just heating up. In September, we welcomed nine female baboons who had been retired from a research facility. These ladies, who were quickly dubbed “the lucky nine,” were greeted with a brand new enclosure of their own. Because they had spent their entire lives in cages, the first months at the Sanctuary were quite an adjustment. After working to build up their muscle mass, we were finally able to release them into a larger part of their enclosure. Watching these girls flourish in a more natural environment has been simply heartwarming for our staff. The lucky nine now spend their time lounging in the sun or contently grooming each other: a far cry from their previous lives in a laboratory.
We experienced many ups and downs in 2013. We said goodbye to two of our beloved primates, Margaret and Joey—but we also welcomed many more. At our Pumpkins for Primates event in New Braunfels, Texas, we educated children about the plight of primates, and let them decorate pumpkins for the primates to play with and munch on. We made new friends from across the country—and kept primates warm in the cool December nights—when you mailed baby blankets for our Baby Blankets for Primates drive. We ended our year with a successful fundraiser with legendary rock band, REO Speedwagon, where a lucky couple won a guitar autographed by the band—with all proceeds benefiting the Sanctuary. What a perfect way to end this whirlwind year.
Of course, though 2013 has come to a close, our work is never done. We’re here 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, without fail. Caring for these primates means the world to us, and we thank you for your generous support. We look forward to updating you with more success stories in 2014!
For the primates,