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Blog Archives: 03/2018

Unlikely Friends

Laura Clifford March 16, 2018

One of the most interesting and unconventional groups at the PRC consists of three spider monkeys and one siamang gibbon. These four friends have lived happily together for over a decade in an enclosure designed to fit each species needs. They all love to spend their days grooming and napping! Caregivers often see all four snuggled closely together with Jenny’s long arms wrapped around the group in the evenings before everyone heads off to bed.


Jenny is a siamang gibbon, and she is one of the oldest residents at the PRC. Jenny was captured in the wild in 1971 and arrived at the PRC in 1992 after spending many years at the Greater Baton Rouge Zoo in Louisiana. Jenny originally lived with her partner, Jason, who also came from the Greater Baton Rouge Zoo, but when Jason passed away in 2003, Jenny was introduced to the group of spider monkeys. While it might seem like an odd pairing, Jenny, Dehlia, Bisou, and Chester all get along great. Jenny has a very easy going, laid back personality, but she doesn't shy away from defending herself when one of her roommates tries to steal her food! Jenny loves to spend time at the top of her enclosure napping in the sunshine.


Chester is a spider monkey who was a former pet before arriving at the PRC in 2002. He is a very curious and energetic monkey who loves to explore new sounds, tastes, scents, and textures. Chester and Jenny spend much of their day grooming together outside. He especially enjoys enrichment that provides new scents for him to smell. Some of his favorites are blankets and stuffed animals that have a drop or two of essential oils on them. He is always excited to see his caregivers at mealtime and enjoys brachiating across the top of his outdoor enclosure.


Bisou is also a former pet who was found roaming free in a California neighborhood and rescued in 1993. Since then, Bisou has found sanctuary at the PRC and has fully embraced living life with other monkeys. Bisou is French for "kiss" and the name suits her well since she often makes a "kiss-face" when greeting her caregivers each day. She has a sweet, shy temperament and is very observant and inquisitive. She will often sit and watch as her caregivers complete their daily tasks, and she takes her time examining new foods and enrichment. Bisou loves spending time grooming with Jenny, Chester, and Dehlia, and she even seems to enjoy some occasional alone time in her outdoor enclosure.

Dehlia was found and rescued from a closet in an abandoned apartment in 2002, and has called the PRC home ever since. Dehlia is the leader in her group of four and usually gets first pick when it comes to food and enrichment. She is a very social monkey and often whistles with delight when she sees her caregivers and volunteers each morning. She gets particularly excited when she sees the feed cart coming around! One of Dehlia's favorite enrichment activities is foraging for treats in her forage pool. Dehlia also enjoys sunbathing at the top of her outdoor enclosure and long grooming sessions with Chester.


Jenny, Chester, Bisou, and Dehlia are all available for adoption through our Primate Pals program! You can click here to learn more about the program, and choose your Primate Pal today!

We Miss You, Hazel!

Becca Banks March 02, 2018

Hazel passed away in 2016 due to complications of diabetes at an estimated age of 47 years old. Beautiful Hazel left us on the morning of May 25th in her sleep, leaving behind her legacy of relishing life's comforts after surviving a dark and terrible past. Hazel was most likely caught in the wild in the late 1960s or early 70s, and so we don't know her birth date. We were told she was initially acquired for use in a circus, but she has always been a stubborn one and didn't perform as her trainers demanded. They nicknamed her "Lump Lump" and sold her to a private owner in Georgia. As privately-owned primates, Hazel and her companions Donald, Victoria, Zulu, and Debbie, who is now deceased, were housed in a filthy, windowless 10’x10’ concrete bunker for close to twenty years. The chimpanzees were forced to survive without any ventilation, very little fresh water and improper nutrition until their rescue two decades later.

Hazel was sedated and received her first medical examination before she made the journey to her new home, the Primate Rescue Center.

When Hazel arrived at the PRC in 1998, she was obese and was diagnosed with diabetes. We immediately got to work getting her diabetes under control and made great strides by introducing her to a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables and getting her to move around in our large outdoor enclosure.

Hazel always struggled with her weight and mobility, but in 2000, Hazel and fellow adult chimpanzee pals Donald, Victoria and Zulu were introduced to 7 young chimps, which certainly helped increase Hazel’s activity. The youngsters had been living at the PRC since 1996 when they were rescued from the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP), a biomedical research laboratory in New York. Hazel and the other adult chimpanzees were about to meet Martina, Ike, Rodney, Cory, Pozna, Noelle, and Jenny. Before the introductions, the adults typically spent their days lazily grooming and napping, while the chimps rescued from LEMSIP displayed youthful energy and rambunctiousness. But, as the two groups were united into one cohesive unit of eleven, the once-sedentary adults began running, playing, and reprimanding the youngsters for inappropriate behavior. The youngsters benefited, as well, as the integration enabled more complex interactions and social opportunities. With Hazel’s improved diet of appropriate foods and a more active lifestyle, her diabetes was more controlled than it ever had been. This gave Hazel the opportunity to live her best life.

Hazel was so nurturing towards all of the chimps, but especially the young and rowdy boys. She commanded respect and her reassuring presence was key to facilitating the introduction of the two groups of chimps. She had a special bond with young Cory, and if you saw the two together, you’d think he was her baby from the start.

When the chimps were first introduced in 2000, Hazel and Cory were drawn to each other right away.

As Cory grew out of his adolescence, his bond with Hazel never faltered. He groomed her lovingly, respected her authority in times of conflict and always joined her outside on sunny days to relax in the warm sunshine. Hazel always stayed close with Donald, Zulu and Victoria, as she enjoyed the comforting presence of her long-time companions. All of the younger chimps looked up to and adored Hazel. She taught them how to construct intricate nests, how to properly groom one another and, most importantly, how to relish life’s pleasures. 

Hazel's warmth and confidence was endearing to many. She could often be found napping in a hammock or resting in the outdoor tunnel. All of the volunteers and staff of the PRC adored and loved Hazel’s sweet soul. Although it is difficult to reflect on Hazel’s passing, we are comforted by the fact that the last decades of Hazel's life were full of fresh air, sunshine, her beloved chimpanzee friends and the fresh food that she loved so much.

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