Tim Ajax

Sanctuary Blog

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!

Mortimer the Vervet

Published: 01/27/06

It is with great sadness we announce the death of one of our “adoptable” primates, Mortimer. Despite our best efforts, Mortimer’s kidneys stopped functioning, and he was unable to recover. Mortimer was 19 years old. Although every one of our API Primate Sanctuary residents is special, Mortimer had a particularly endearing character.

Mortimer’s story is not that unusual to the Sanctuary. He was confiscated along with a number of other animals from a private home where they were kept as “pets.” These animals were found in appalling conditions, some without access to a proper diet or drinking water. Mortimer was housed in a debris-strewn cage in a wet basement. He was allegedly fed pizza and soda. The “owner” was later taken to court and found guilty of animal cruelty.

Mortimer was 15 years old when he arrived at the Sanctuary in 2002 as an overweight, aggressive individual showing signs of disturbed behavior. Like many “pet” monkeys, Mortimer’s start in life had a major impact on his later years. Being raised in an unnatural, squalid setting and fed predominantly junk food had adverse effects on his physical health. Further, we can only imagine the stress and loneliness that such a highly social and intelligent wild animal like Mortimer must have suffered during his solitary confinement in that basement.

But we can take comfort in knowing that during the last years of his life, the API Primate Sanctuary was able to provide Mortimer with an enriched, natural setting, allowing Mortimer to live with others of his kind. He had space, companionship, a nourishing diet, and perhaps more importantly, the freedom to make choices — to decide on what and how he wanted to spend his time.

We realize his ultimate freedom would have never meant life in a cage or even at our Sanctuary, but instead, a life lived freely in his native Africa. Unfortunately, that decision was removed from us the moment he became someone’s “pet.” Please let Mortimer’s story serve as a reminder that these primates are More Beautiful Wild.

In late 2005, API produced blank note cards featuring Mortimer and his story. Despite Mortimer’s death, we will continue to carry the note cards in our online store. The cards continue to represent the reason for the Sanctuary’s existence — and until people realize these wild animals are not meant to be “pets,” our work is not done.

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