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 35 Number 1, Spring 2004
When he arrived at API last fall, Boon — a male olive baboon — was frightened and withdrawn. His fear was understandable — after all, the Sanctuary was quite a change for him. Boon had spent the previous 12 years of his life as a "pet," living in a small, barren, and dark enclosure attached to a garage. When his "owners" decided they no longer wanted Boon, API agreed to give him a permanent home at our Primate Sanctuary.
When Sanctuary staffers went to pick up Boon, they found him clutching a chewed-up plastic child’s toy. His movements were awkward, stiff, and clumsy from arthritis and lack of exercise. We saw how boredom, along with social and psychological deprivation, had resulted in stereotypic behavior and self-mutilation. One of the saddest aspects of his captivity was knowing that the last baboon he probably saw was his mother, at least 12 years ago.
Boon’s rehabilitation at the Sanctuary has been slow, but progress has occurred. Surrounded by the sights and sounds of others of his kind, he has begun to blossom as a baboon. Within weeks, he developed a rapport with Holly, an elderly baboon once used in research. Although it is unlikely that Boon will ever be strong and self-sufficient enough to be released with the main troop, API hopes that he and Holly and some other elderly baboons will become a social group in a specially built enclosure for "disadvantaged" individuals.
Misplaced Human Affection
Boon’s life story is sad, but typical of the thousands of nonhuman primates who end up in the cruel and immoral wildlife ‘pet’ trade.
Deprived of their freedom, natural habitat, and kinship, these wild animals are forced to live in human domestic situations because people see them as "cute and cuddly" when young. Such inappropriate conditions inevitably lead to social, physical and psychological deprivation and suffering. As these individuals mature, they can become aggressive and cause serious human injuries.
When it becomes impossible for their human "owners" to care for them any longer, these invariably dysfunctional and disturbed animals find their way to sanctuaries such as the API Primate Sanctuary ... or are killed.
Help Us Help Boon
The lesson to be learned from Boon’s and countless others’ situations is simple: Wild animals do not belong in captivity. You can help end the suffering of captive wild animals by educating family and friends to resist the urge to keep any wild animal as a "pet."
You can also support Boon and the other animals at the API Primate Sanctuary by making a donation. Through your support, we can build a natural habitat enclosure for Boon, Holly, and other vulnerable and deserving individuals like them. Although such enclosures are costly, every dollar you can send helps.
In addition to providing a haven for Boon, Holly, and the other baboons, the API Primate Sanctuary is the permanent home to more than 400 snow monkeys and vervets who have been given a second chance at life.
The Sanctuary’s work is critical — and costly. Did you know that it costs API $2,300 each week to feed the animals at the Sanctuary? That’s nearly $120,000 annually. Any donation you can make is urgently needed!
The cost may seem high, but it’s well worth it. The Sanctuary is API’s "hands-on" contribution to the animal protection movement, actively saving animals from misery and abuse.
By supporting API, you can make a direct difference in the lives of Sanctuary residents. After all they have been through, they deserve to live out the rest of their days in safety, peace, and comfort.