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!

A Natural Life, A Gradual Process

From Animal Issues, Volume 35 Number 2, Summer 2004

Published: 06/30/04

As many Animal Issues readers know, the API Primate Sanctuary is dedicated to providing the most natural life possible to the residents in our care. One of the ways we accomplish this goal is by rehabilitating animals once kept in unnatural situations as "pets," in research facilities, or in roadside zoos.

In April, we reached an important milestone in the rehabilitation of the rescued vervets who now call the API Primate Sanctuary "home." That’s when we were able to release the vervets into a new, purposefully-built, natural enclosure. The enclosure provides a complex and stimulating environment with many platforms, ladders, ropes, and swings — the ideal setting for these active, inquisitive primates.

Rehabilitation is a complex process. Introducing primates to one another can be problematic, particularly when the individuals involved have lived deprived of companionship from others of their species. Fighting and injuries can sometimes occur.

The vervets rescued by API have come from a variety of backgrounds. Some were formerly used in research; others were once kept as "pets." In preparation for the release, we gradually introduced the vervets to each other over a period of weeks. An introduction tunnel was built, running the length of the vervets’ temporary cages, and each vervet spent time in the tunnel, meeting the others through the cage bars. Sanctuary staff observed and monitored these encounters to gain an understanding of how the various individuals interacted.

On the highly-anticipated "release day," the cage doors were opened and those animals scheduled to be part of the release ventured forth into their new home. Many ran excitedly into the enclosure; others took a more cautious approach. It was thrilling to see them running and playing in the trees and wooden platforms. As the day progressed, new friendships had developed amongst certain individuals. They teamed up in twos and threes, playing together and grooming each other.

By the second day of the release, it was clear that a core group of nine individuals had established itself and appeared to be getting along well. We are currently building a second enclosure for the remaining vervets.

The vervets rescued by API have come from a variety of backgrounds.

Noelle was a former "pet," kept in diapers and a harness. Although she is the smallest vervet at the Sanctuary, she has shown herself to be quite the dominant individual in the new enclosure. On the day of the release, she was one of the most active individuals, clearly enjoying her new home.

Bridget was once used in research. On the day of the release, she quickly became one of the more dominant individuals in the enclosure. She has teamed up with Noelle and two other females, Franny and Pam. They spend their days playing and grooming each other.

Mortimer came to the Sanctuary from a roadside zoo. Despite his large size, he is a timid individual. He has an endearing character as well as a large appetite. He spends his days in the new enclosure roaming and eating.

Toby was a former "pet." He is about nine years old. As is typical of some ex-"pets," Toby does not seem to relish the company of other vervets. Despite being a bit of a loner, Toby is nevertheless an established member of the released group.

A Happy Update ...

In the last Animal Issues, we introduced readers to Boon, the male baboon rescued from a private home. Before arriving at the API Primate Sanctuary, Boon had spent 12 years of his life as a "pet," living in a small, barren, and dark enclosure attached to a garage.

Since we first wrote about Boon, he has become close companions with Holly, a female baboon once used in research. Following a gradual period of introduction, the pair is now housed together.

Boon’s transformation since arriving at the Sanctuary has been dramatic, especially considering that he spent years in solitary confinement. He is extremely attached to Holly and the pair has become inseparable, eating together and grooming each other. Their friendship is a real joy to see, and clearly illustrates how the API Primate Sanctuary can give animals a second chance at life.

You can ensure that the happier times continue for Boon, Holly, the vervets, and all the other residents of the Sanctuary by making a donation to API. It costs a great deal of money to build and maintain the Sanctuary’s natural enclosures, and to feed more than 400 macaques, vervets, and baboons who live there. Of course, the cost is well worth it — we’ve recently seen firsthand with the vervets and with Boon and Holly how the Sanctuary changes lives.

We can’t do this critical work without your help! By taking a moment and donating to API today, you can provide the Sanctuary residents with countless happy tomorrows.

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