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!
From Animal Issues, Volume 37 Number 2, Summer 2006
The past four months have been a busy time at the Sanctuary. Projects, such as the construction of a new set of semi-natural enclosures, have almost been completed. Climbing platforms for additional enrichment and shelter within one of our large, natural, free-range enclosures have also been built, along with a pool and a diving platform, something the monkeys thoroughly enjoy.
Feeding all the monkeys is the main task of the day. The Sanctuary’s annual feed budget is at least $110,000. Food is purchased weekly and menus are decided for the different troops and various social groups. A variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, including bananas, are fed every day along with a commercial monkey diet biscuit and a forage mix of peanuts, sunflower seeds, and milo. As much as possible, fresh produce is given whole to the monkeys to provide enrichment as well as nourishment; it’s great work for them to shuck corn or peel bananas.
Feeding time within the various free-ranging enclosures can be fairly chaotic as staff try to ensure that the low-ranking individuals get access to the more prized items such as bananas. Also, care is taken to provide food to the more vulnerable residents such as the elderly females, some of whom are over 20 years old and are less mobile. There is also Ernie, a little guy with limited vision. Despite having this disadvantage, Ernie enjoys the freedom of living in an enclosure of several acres and does extremely well.