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!
On Saturday, January 18, a young spider monkey named Brodi was humanely killed in Ohio in order to send his head off for rabies testing, despite the fact that he had recently received a rabies vaccination. His crime was having bitten the thumb of an employee at a car dealership who reached into a vehicle (with permission) to pet the monkey. State law requires the testing to be performed when the animal involved is not domesticated and, unfortunately, there are currently no reliable alternatives to directly testing the brain for the disease. A very sad ending for a very young life, especially considering several accredited sanctuaries reached out to officials with the offer of quarantine and life-long care for him. Sad as it is, the reality is that his unnatural death was a mostly predictable conclusion to a very unnatural life.
While his wild counterparts were clinging to their mothers 24 hours per day in the upper canopy of a rainforest, little Brodi was stolen from his mother by a breeder, wrapped up in human clothes, and forced to learn how to nurse from plastic and rubber. While his wild counterparts were busy day and night, learning all the lessons their mother and group had to offer, little Brodi was being taught how to keep his clothes and diaper on, take a bath, and stay out of trouble. He even learned to walk on land - something his wild cousins never do, as they’re too smart to come down to ground level and risk being killed by predators. In an attempt to mimic some of his natural environment he was given toys, and blankets, and small ropes to swing from – and a steel cage.
Day by day, unnatural lessons were reinforced, natural instincts were suppressed, and he was treated like a small human child. He was no doubt loved by his captors, but some behaviors are hard-wired: you can take the monkey out of the wild, but you can’t take the wild out of the monkey.
While his free-roaming relatives thousands of miles away were busy going about their lives high in the treetops, Brodi sat in the backseat of a car at a dealership in Vermilion, Ohio and did what many primates do when they feel threatened or are having a bad day: he bit the perceived offender – and that was the end for him.
Sorry, little monkey; you never had a chance.
For the primates,