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Blog Archives: 08/2017

PRC Memorial Garden - To Always Remember

Scott Roseberry August 25, 2017

At the beginning of summer, we began planning and constructing a memorial garden as a way to honor and always remember the primates we have lost over the years. We started by choosing a tree near the chimp enclosure as a focal point for the garden, then lined the tree with decorative stone and mulch and created a spiral of stones extending out from the tree base. This spiral of stones will display the names of all the beloved primates who spent their final years living at the PRC, and will be where we bury their ashes (all deceased primates are respectfully cremated).  In the middle of the spiral will be a beautiful birdbath. This will be a place where people who knew these residents can come to remember their life in sanctuary, or for those who didn’t have the pleasure of knowing them, they may reflect on the legacy they have left behind. Because the garden is located next to the chimp enclosure, they will never be far from their friends and family.

One monkey who will be honored in this memorial garden is Gizmo. Gizmo was the very first primate to be rescued by PRC founders April Truitt and Clay Miller, and thus began the journey of hundreds of primates to be rescued and rehabilitated by the PRC since 1987. 

The construction is ongoing and we hope to have the garden completed by the end of the summer. We look forward to finishing this project and having a proper memorial for these beautiful souls who brought so much life, love, and laughter to all those who encountered them.

Please contact us if you would like to make a donation toward the memorial garden or in memory of any sanctuary resident who has passed.

Tasty Summer Treats!!!

Tori Himes August 19, 2017

Here at the PRC, one of the most important things we provide for our primate residents is new and sometimes tasty enrichment! Enrichment is important because it helps increase the animals’ physical and mental activity levels. Enrichment can be anything from unusual smells to new toys or frozen treats!

With the hot summer months upon us, frozen enrichment is a fantastic way to help everyone cool down. One of our residents' favorite frozen enrichment recipes is Banana Popcicles. We simply chop up some bananas and place them in small paper cups. Then we pour some diluted all-natural juice into the cups and freeze overnight. 

Cysgo capuchin is really enjoying his frozen treat! Using his sharp teeth to bite into the ice and break out the pieces of banana is a fun and enriching experience.

If you would like to donate enrichment items to our monkeys and chimps, check out our Amazon Wishlist. Also, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to see pictures and videos of our residents enjoying their enrichment!

Celebrating our Beloved Friends: How we pay tribute to chimps who have passed away.

Laura Clifford August 10, 2017

The hardest part of caring for animals is having to say goodbye to them. When we take this job we know that death is an inevitable part of it, but that knowledge doesn’t make it any easier. Over the last year we have experienced our first chimp losses, which were some of the hardest losses we have ever endured. I am frequently asked what we do in the event of an animal death so I thought I would take some time to address that here, and give you a glimpse into that process.

When our residents die we have them cremated, and we spread their ashes in our memorial garden. Before we do that, we like to take some time to reflect on their lives and the time they spent at the PRC. Each resident becomes a beloved member of the PRC family, and they are dearly missed when their time with us comes to an end. Our staff and volunteers like to take time to say goodbye to each individual and it is comforting to be able to return their remains to a place where they were cared for daily, and were so deeply loved. Our life's work is to alleviate the suffering of primates, and it is an honor to be able to do that for the monkeys and chimps in our care.

When we lose one of our chimps it is important for us to allow the other chimps to say their goodbyes and give them the chance to grieve over their loss as well. Both Hazel and Pozna died very suddenly after unexpected medical emergencies. In both cases, the chimp had been separated from the rest of the troop and our expert medical team was called upon for proper care. Since they were out of the enclosure, once they passed, we placed the body on a table outside of a section of caging so that the other chimps could see and touch their friend. In each instance some of the chimps became very visibly upset, while others just sat quietly and looked at their deceased friend. Some of them wanted to touch the hands and feet of their friend to try and wake them up, but once they realized they would not be able to wake them, they slowly started to leave the room. Some would linger for longer and even lay down beside the body, lightly touching their hands and feet. We have a fairly small group of chimps, so each loss is felt in a big way, and our chimps are greatly affected.

Another way we honor our lost chimps is by paying tribute to them on their birthdays. We go all out on the chimps' birthdays and throw big parties with themes that we know the birthday boy or girl will really enjoy. We still want to celebrate the chimps we have lost, so on their birthdays we throw a party for the group and place photos of our departed friend all over the walls and on posters so that the other chimps can see them and remember. It's a small way for us to celebrate the time we got to spend with them before they passed, and a great way to help keep their memories alive within the troop.

As caregivers we get to know our animals on a deep level, and we truly love each of the amazing animals that we have the honor of serving. It is nearly impossible to do this job without becoming emotionally invested, especially when working with primates who have very distinct and unique personalities. We know their favorite foods, favorite toys, games and even their favorite movies in some cases. We work hard to build trust and to work to restore some of what was taken from them when they were in labs or being kept as pets. That work naturally produces a bond, and it is very hard when we have to say goodbye. But with the pain of loss comes an immense amount of gratitude. We are forever grateful to have been a part of each animal's life, and it is an honor and a privilege to care for them. Caring for them for the rest of their lives is our mission, so when that time comes and we get to the end of a life, we are able to grieve for what we have lost, but also celebrate what has been achieved - true sanctuary.

Hazel

Pozna

Jumpstart your career with a PRC Internship!

Melanie Parker August 02, 2017

The internship program at the Primate Rescue Center is an amazing opportunity for individuals who are interested in learning about primate care to immerse themselves in the daily hustle and bustle of life at a primate sanctuary. Food preparation, cleaning of enclosures, creating enrichment, and observing primate behavior, caregiver tasks, and medical exams are a major part of our internship program.

This summer we were thrilled to host five interns for the months of June – August, and were delighted with their level of interest, enthusiasm for learning, excellent work ethic, and general friendly demeanor, as well as how well they worked together as a group.

Pictured left to right: Samantha Hilty, Elizabeth Hayes, Jessica Seals, Caitlyn Hume, Liz Unkraut

Jessica Seals is from Liberty, IN and attends school at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. She has already completed one Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology, and is working towards her second degree in Biology with a concentration in Zoology. Growing up, Jessica’s family instilled in her the mindset that all animals deserve to be treated with respect, and therefore animal welfare has always been important in her life. After a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo as a college undergrad, Jessica fell in love with the gorillas, especially a newborn infant in the group. This solidified her decision to become a zookeeper or a caregiver at a primate sanctuary.
When asked what her favorite part of her PRC internship has been, Jessica remarked on how much she’s enjoyed getting to know the unique personalities of all the primates who live at the sanctuary, especially the chimps. She also loves creating enrichment items to put in the various enclosures after cleaning, and seeing the primates enjoy and investigate their new items.
From the beginning of her internship, Jessica fell for Cory chimpanzee. He was the first chimp she was able to identify (partly because he’s always the one making the most noise), and she admires how he can go from rambunctious to super sweet and interactive in the blink of an eye. Because Jessica lived on property, she has also had the privilege of observing the chimps in the evenings in their outdoor enclosure, where Cory tends to spend most of his time.

Caitlyn Hume is practically a local, living just up the road in Lancaster, KY and will soon be finishing up her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Studies at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond. As a child, Caitlyn was always an animal lover, and hoped to someday become a zookeeper. Now on the verge of graduating, her dreams are still following that same path as Caitlyn hopes to work in a sanctuary or zoo as an animal caregiver. In her free time, she enjoys reading a good book, playing with her dog and cat, and doing some online shopping. As a PRC intern, Caitlyn has enjoyed getting to know the personalities of all the animals at the sanctuary, and was excited to find that although she knew that primates are extremely smart, observing them in person took her understanding and awe of them to a whole new level.
When asked who her favorite chimp and monkey have been during her time at the sanctuary, she described her interest in Ike chimpanzee and Caleb vervet. “Ike is my favorite chimp. He has this aloof attitude like he doesn’t care about humans, but if you’re lucky he shows you how sweet and playful he really is under his mysterious exterior. And I love that Caleb vervet is always excited to see everyone and is so flirty. Not to mention very handsome!”.

Samantha Hilty grew up in Houston, TX, and as a child was obsessed with catching lizards and snakes in her yard, and was inspired by Steve Irwin and Jeff Corwin on TV. Although her goals within the field have changed since she was a 5 year old, her love for animals still rings true.
Samantha attends the University of Texas in Austin, TX, with majors in Environmental Science and Biological Science. She plans to attend veterinary school in the fall of 2019 after she graduates, and hopes to continue working with primates as a vet in either a sanctuary or wildlife reserve setting.
When asked what she most enjoyed about her PRC internship, Samantha spoke of a lifelong dream fulfilled, after having read about chimpanzees for years and always hoping to work with or near them. Some favorite moments of hers were watching Cory use his grass forage board with utmost concentration, and doing laundry in the chimp kitchen as Noelle pulled a barrel up to the window nearby to watch her fold blankets. Samantha also remarked on what an incredible experience it was to work with all the PRC staff, volunteers, and fellow interns, and how much she enjoyed listening to everyone’s stories, and insight on primate care, making every day fun and memorable.
In addition to a fondness for Cory, Noelle, and Jenny chimp for her mischievous and playful personality, Samantha also bonded with Dewey rhesus macaque and Mandy Sulawesi macaque. “They both have adorable personalities. Mandy is so vocal and her Mohawk really suits her, and Dewey seems like a total sweetheart – his commitment to Bubbles long-tailed macaque is admirable.”

Before becoming an intern at the PRC, Liz Unkraut joined the volunteer team in December 2016 and instantly loved the sanctuary environment. After learning about the internship program, Liz realized that becoming an intern would be a great way to get even more of the experience she needed to achieve her future career goals, so she made the switch from volunteer to intern and we were delighted to have even more time with Liz at the sanctuary.
Liz grew up in Florence, KY, and always felt that when she was helping animals she was doing something good for the world; fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves.
Liz graduated with a Psychology degree from Northern Kentucky University, and now has her mind set on becoming a caregiver at a primate sanctuary. In her free time she enjoys wildlife photography, and hiking/camping.
As an intern, Liz feels that the most rewarding thing has been seeing how much of a difference the PRC is making in the primates’ lives, and learning more about the care that they receive each day.
Although she had a tough time choosing favorites, Liz has bonded closely with Jenny chimpanzee and Breanna rhesus macaque. “Jenny has such a fun and silly personality. I love her silly faces, and the way that she interacts with her caregivers. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s so cute. And I love how sweet Breanna is to the caregivers and her monkey companions.”

Elizabeth Hayes will be staying on with us for an extended time, as she is our second ever Long-Term Intern, living on-site and getting a glimpse of life at the sanctuary through a couple of seasons. Elizabeth grew up in Cleveland, TN near Chattanooga, and attended college at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology this past May. As a young girl, Elizabeth and her siblings adopted many rescue animals. This fostered respect, concern, and kindness that grew into a lifelong goal of helping to make a difference in the lives of animals, wild and captive. As an intern at another facility, Elizabeth learned about the decision the National Institutes of Health had made regarding the retirement of federally-owned chimpanzees from research, and she quickly realized that being a great ape caregiver was the career path for her. She also remarked that she “loves learning the primates’ different personalities and thought processes, and would like to find a way to make it clear to the public that we can appreciate their intelligence in a natural setting rather than trying to compare theirs to human intelligence through unnatural and harmful experiments.”
Elizabeth has been enjoying many parts of her internship experience, but especially likes using her creativity to help with enriching the various primate enclosures, based on the needs, habits, and movements of individuals living here. Preparing chimp lunch and monkey dinner is also a favorite task, and Elizabeth is always excited to find out if the primates have approved of her recipe. Even though it was extremely difficult for Elizabeth to pick a favorite primate at the sanctuary, she expressed a fondness for Jenny chimpanzee because of her playful personality and ability to spit mouthfuls of water with great accuracy, and Dewey rhesus macaque because of his sweet heart, despite his painful past before coming to the sanctuary.

The PRC staff is so thankful to all our interns for their hard work, creativity, and dedication to excellent care of the primates this summer. We know they will continue to be advocates for animals in need, and we hope that they will take what they have learned during their PRC internship and use it to further their career goals while making a difference in the lives of animals.

For more information about the PRC Internship Program, check out this LINK to our website and take a look at the internship requirements and application packet.

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