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Here at the PRC, we try to match all of our residents with at least one other primate companion. It is mentally unhealthy for a monkey to grow up by itself without any normal monkey interactions. Both primate pets and lab monkeys are torn away from their mothers at an extremely young age, either to be placed with a human owner or put in a cage at a research facility. Monkeys that are deprived of the companionship of their own kind often develop what are known as “stress behaviors,” such as rocking, pacing, or even self-biting, because they lacked a companion to interact with the way they would in the wild. Once they arrive at our sanctuary, these monkeys that have grown up alone are typically scared of other monkeys and very hard to place in a group. They have never seen another monkey before, and they can be too scared to mesh well in a group or sometimes too aggressive towards other monkeys because they are so afraid of them.
We work very hard to provide our residents with as close to a normal primate life as we can. A huge part of that is providing monkey companions to our monkey residents, and sometimes that means mixing different species of monkeys in one group. That has worked extremely well for us, even if the two species of monkeys would not normally live together in the wild. Many of our mixed species groups have not only gotten along, but also thrive together, developing strong bonds with each other by grooming and playing together. Here is a quick look at some of our mixed species groups and the close friendships they have produced.
Maddie (left) is a Pigtail Macaque who lives with three Long-Tailed Macaques. Here she is pictured with Toby, the male of the group. Although they are different species, Maddie and Toby get along very well, often playing in a water pool together in the warmer months.
Jenny Gibbon (right) lives with three Spider Monkeys. She spends her days in the sun with her companions, and she loves to groom Chester (left). Jenny has a great relationship with all the Spiders, but she and Chester are closer than the others.
Breanna is a Rhesus Macaque/Long-Tailed Macaque hybrid who lives with two young Vervet Monkeys. Breanna was very afraid of other monkeys for a long time, so it was very difficult to fit her into a group. We eventually decided to try her with the two young boys, Bob and Caleb, because they were so small and still acted like kids. The introduction went very well, and now Breanna spends her days racing around with the two boys or grooming her pal Caleb.
Bob, a Vervet monkey, arrived at the PRC in 2010 when he was just over one year old. Monkeys do not belong in private homes as pets for a myriad of reasons. However, we do not deny the appeal and attraction people have towards monkeys, especially baby monkeys. We simply encourage individuals to express that compassion and love for primates in an appropriate and beneficial way for those primates.
Bob arrived with a cute baby face and little baby teeth, and he was full of energy, curiosity and playfulness. Fortunately for Bob and his healthy mental and physical development, we were able to quickly introduce him to monkey companions. He made fast friends with his pal Caleb, who he now chases, wrestles, and grooms with all day long. The caretakers at the PRC have really enjoyed watching Bob grow up.
In just three short years though, Bob has grown in so many ways. He has grown taller, faster, and much more curious and destructive. He is beginning to assert his dominance over his monkey companions and beginning to reach sexual maturity. He has also become territorial and protective about his food areas, which he sometimes expresses as aggression.
It has been very interesting for us to experience this growing up process with Bob. As he changes from a cute baby faced monkey to the majestic wild animal that he was born to be, caretakers can only imagine what Bob’s life would be like if he was still a pet monkey. At this point, he would be too unmanageable and aggressive for humans to hold and play with him. His teeth are so large now that he could severely injure someone. He is also so incredibly active that he requires a large area to run, jump, and swing with access to climbing structures, perches, and interactive toys and enrichment.
We are thankful that Bob’s former owners sought out what was best for him and chose the option that allows Bob to be the monkey that he was meant to be. Unfortunately, Bob will never be able to live in the wild. However, we know at the PRC, that our high quality of care, opportunities for companionship, and enriching and stimulating environment offer Bob and our other residents an appropriate alternative for them to live out their days in the tranquility of our valley.
This week the PRC joins in celebrating National Volunteer Week; a time to appreciate the dedicated individuals who continue to give their time, energy and support through volunteering at our sanctuary. The volunteer program at the PRC has grown over the years, and offers volunteers the opportunity to help either on-site or off-site, for both short-term and long-term commitments.
Our on-site animal care, administrative, and grounds keeping volunteer program currently boasts a team of 14 individuals who work alongside the sanctuary staff on a wide variety of tasks, including food preparation, cleaning, enrichment, general sanctuary beautification, and office duties. Members of this team include Veteran Volunteers (those who have dedicated more than one full year of service), those who have dedicated more than 6-months of service, and our newest recruits.
Our off-site volunteer crew consists of 3 individuals who help the sanctuary and its residents from home by keeping our website updated, creating enrichment, helping with fund raising, stuffing pamphlets, and soliciting items from local businesses to use for the auction and raffle at our Annual Member Event.
Because the PRC relies on donations to care for our residents, we hold various fund-raising events to help us spread the word of our mission. We participate annually in local events (Earth Day Festival, Joseph Beth Gift Wrapping, Free Friday Flix at Jacobson Park, etc.), as well as holding our largest fund-raising event here at the sanctuary when we open our doors for our Annual Member Event. We rely heavily on volunteers to help us with these events and keep things running smoothly, and generally call on a loyal group of 50-60 individuals who are eager to help each year by giving their time and volunteering.
Within our volunteer program we also have opportunities for individuals from out-of-town to come and volunteer with us on-site for a minimum of one month as an Out-of-Town Volunteer, as well as openings for professionals in a number of fields to offer up their expertise in areas such as landscaping, painting, organizing, housekeeping, and carpentry by becoming a Volunteering Professional.
The PRC would not be the sanctuary it is today without the support of our volunteers. We love our volunteers, and are so thankful to have them with us to help give our resident monkeys and chimps peaceful, enriching lives. Happy National Volunteer Week to all our volunteers, and thank you for volunteering.
It is easy to imagine why being a caretaker at the PRC would not only be fun, but also rewarding. When I am talking to people about my work with the animals a common question is, “What is your favorite part of the job?” Some may think this would be a difficult question to answer. The reality is that of all the aspects of my job that I truly enjoy, one stands out above the rest. Animal Recovery.
To really understand what I mean you will first need a little background information… Upon arrival, new residents are held in quarantine so that their health can be assessed. During that time the staff also gets to know the personality of the newcomer. We quickly learn their likes and dislikes, toy preferences, and general personality quirks. This is all information we later use to decide which group would be the best fit for our new resident.
In the last year we have introduced three different monkeys into new groups: Peanut into our capuchin group, Bubbles into Gizmo’s group, and Breana into Bob’s group. We are proud to say that each of these groups has willingly accepted their new member!
Now is when my favorite part begins to take place. As the new groups live their daily lives together we get to see them form new relationships. Monkeys who never before had a true friend to communicate and interact with begin to bond, often for the first time, with their own kind. Through grooming, playing, and sharing enrichment experiences the group maintains a mentally and physically healthy life.
Every so often two monkeys form a bond that stands out from the rest. It is a friendship that goes beyond normal grooming and playtime antics. This year we were lucky to witness two such bonds: Grady with Peanut and Breana with Caleb. What makes their bond so special? It starts with the introduction. There seems to be an immediate connection and mutual acceptance between the two. Then, it develops into an exceptional amount of time grooming, eating meals side by side and even taking each other's side when someone in the group steps out of line.
It is so rewarding to see our residents become members of a group and form healthy relationships with their monkey friends!
Grady and Peanut Breana and Caleb
The Primate Rescue Center believes in encouraging careers in compassion for animals. We have a vibrant short-term internship program that has hosted interns from locations locally, nationally and internationally. However, those 12-week sessions fly by and as soon as these interns are fully trained and completely familiar with our policies, our routine, and our primates, they have to return to their school or home. These interns provide the PRC with an extraordinary service that is certainly valuable to both the PRC and the intern. However, we wanted to expand that beneficial relationship and have created another internship opportunity.
The PRC One-Year Internship is an opportunity designed to provide individuals interested in a career with primates with significant training and exposure to the field of primate husbandry. This internship will allow individuals to build their resumes and work side by side with experienced care staff. These interns will have a unique experience by living on the PRC property in a spacious studio apartment with a window overlooking the Chimp House Play Room where they can observe the chimpanzees building their nests for the evening or foraging through the straw during meal times.
Interns assist the care staff with various daily tasks, including meal preparation, enclosure maintenance and cleaning, enrichment design and construction, and the general upkeep of the grounds, work areas, and facilities. The PRC looks for individuals who are dependable, hardworking, self-motivated, positive, and team-oriented.
This internship opportunity is a 52-week commitment, working full-time (40 hours per week) and earns a weekly stipend of $50.00. It is the perfect opportunity for individuals looking to begin a career in primate husbandry. This opportunity is only open to one individual at a time; so if you are interested, do not wait to apply.
We are currently accepting applications.
Please follow the link below to learn more about the program and download an application.
I love all the primates here at the PRC (how could I not?), but I think the Black and White Colobus Monkeys are the most interesting! It's hard not to notice their striking black and white pattern or their beautiful long, white tails. In the wild, Colobus are found living up in the trees in tropical African forests. In fact, they rarely leave the treetops! They are able to find enough water in the trees to avoid climbing down to drink, and because they have multi-chambered stomachs (much like cows), they live mainly on leafy greens that other monkeys would pass up. Can you imagine looking up and seeing these beautiful monkeys above you?
Colobus live in social groups in the wild, and our two female Colobus, Alex and Gwen, are no different. They are a close-knit pair and spend most of their time relaxing, grooming each other, and munching on greens. For the most part, they are calm quiet monkeys. However, when they want to alert each other of "trouble" (a snake on the ground, a dog barking in the distance, strange looking leaves in a tree, etc) they make some very unique noises! The Colobus warning sound is an unusual gutteral clicking noise, sort of similar to the sound bullfrogs make. When they see something in their territory that shouldn't be there, they make this noise and and jump around using quick hopping movements. I like to think Colobus are the frogs of the monkey world!
Alex and Gwen relaxing in the sun.
Alex sitting in one of her favorite spots.
Gwen and Alex.
Storage space has always been at a premium here at the PRC. As our Donation-In-Kind program grows due to the success of our Amazon Wish List, we have been bursting at the seams! However, having a variety of new and creative items on-site allows our carestaff to change toys and other enrichment items frequently to keep our primates mentally stimulated and emotionally healthy.
The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels awarded the PRC a grant for the purchase of a 12’x30’ storage shed. The Dura-Built Company delivered the very large shed on a beautiful sunny day at the end of February with a specialized motorized dolly. It took almost two hours to slowly and carefully drive the shed down our very narrow driveway into the valley--with a very steep drop off to the right, there was little room for error!
However, with some patience and great teamwork, the shed made it down in one piece! This shed will certainly provide the additional storage space needed to store all the great donations we receive, as well as many other items needed for the daily care of our residents. Many thanks to Colonel Glen Bastin, General Kevin Doyle and the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels for this generous grant!
Each day at the PRC, we make a special lunch item to give to the chimps, and a much smaller portion of the same goes to the monkeys for their dinner. The menu is different each day, with variety and nutrition always in our minds as we prepare the meal. Commonly, our volunteers who prepare the meal will comment that “the chimps eat better than I do”, or they’d like to make that same recipe at home for themselves. So, below is a recipe that we make for the chimps and monkeys that everyone really loves, and could also be a tasty breakfast bowl to make for yourself in your own kitchen☺
The amount we make is definitely more than you would need to make for yourself, so if you try this at home be sure to pare it down.
13 cups of Rice Chex Cereal
4 whole apples
4 cups of almonds
1 cup of shredded coconut
1 cup of seeds (you could also use granola, other nuts, another diced fruit, etc. instead)
4 cups of almond milk
1 cup dried cranberries
1 Tbsp cinnamon
Dice the apples, then mix all ingredients together. We serve it in paper cups to our chimps and monkeys, and we hear lots of grunts and squeals of delight as they slowly pick through it for their favorite ingredients and savor each bite.
There has been some media coverage about a recent lion attack on a young intern at a big cat facility in California. The details of what occurred are yet to be investigated and uncovered, and our thoughts certainly go out to the family of the young victim of this horrible tragedy. However, it made us think about the importance of being able to identify TRUE sanctuaries, not only for donors and supporters, but especially for those potential volunteers and interns who are looking for that unique opportunity to gain knowledge and experience working with animals.
Internships and volunteer opportunities are a great way for individuals to build their resumes, gain practical experience, and learn from experienced caregivers as they pursue a career path in animal husbandry and/or advocacy. However, individuals must make sure to closely examine the organizations to which they are applying to not only ensure the most rewarding, fulfilling and educational experience, but also to ensure that the organizations are reputable, responsible, and safe.
Fortunately, the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) in conjunction with the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) has begun to identify and accredit primate sanctuaries across North America and hold organizations to high standards in categories ranging from financial stability and quality of care to safety protocols. GFAS has evaluated and accredited animal sanctuaries around the world against such high standards. However, not all animal facilities and organizations participate in oversight and accreditation procedures, and therefore must be examined for warning signs by individuals themselves.
What are some of those warning signs that indicate an animal facility is not a TRUE sanctuary and may not be a reputable or safe organization with which to associate as you pursue your career with animals?
First and foremost, safety should be a top priority. Despite the strong desire individuals have to directly interact with wild exotic animals, a reputable and safe sanctuary will not allow interns and volunteers to have hands-on interaction or contact with dangerous and unpredictable wild animals (i.e. primates, big cats, bears, whales, etc.). This type of contact is simply not worth the risk and therefore should not be permitted for the safety of the human individuals as well as the animals themselves.
In addition, responsible and reputable sanctuaries will not take their dangerous exotic animals (primates, big cats, bears, etc.) off-site for “educational” purposes, including school visits, TV appearances, etc. There are much safer ways to educate the public about various exotic species, including videos and photos that show the animals in their habitats and interacting with their fellow species. Those facilities that insist on exposing the public to unpredictable and dangerous exotic animals for “educational” purposes reveal their lack of commitment to the safety of the public as well as the safety of their animals.
TRUE sanctuaries do not breed and take necessary steps to prevent reproduction among their residents. Sanctuary communities are well aware of the existing need for the placement of animals of all species into sanctuaries from pet situations, laboratories, and entertainment. Breeding new animals that fill those spots and add to the number of animals in captivity is irresponsible. In many cases, these babies are often hand raised by humans and denied the maternal bonding and skill development crucial for healthy growth and the prevention of abnormal stereotypical behaviors.
As you begin to look for internship or volunteer opportunities, keep in mind that not all animal organizations are equal. A nicely designed website with colorful pictures can be deceiving. It is important to at least examine a sanctuary’s mission statement, look for GFAS accreditation, and look for a hands-off policy so that you can be confident that your internship or volunteer experience is not only educational and fulfilling, but also at a facility that is reputable, safe and responsible. If you have any doubts or questions about a particular facility, you can always ask a well-known reputable organization their opinion.
Ike is an exceptional chimp. Fast, fit and fearless he stands out as a member of our troop who often gets his way. Ike has come to be Donald’s (our alpha chimp) right-hand man. He is the muscle behind Donald’s diplomatic approach to leading the troop.
Ike generally spends his time keeping the troop, namely the other boys, in line. We have even seen Ike instigate trouble just for the thrill of the chase! A pull on someone’s foot or a small shove in the back is all that is needed and they are off to the races. Ike takes off into the outdoor enclosure. The rest of the troop is not far behind, hooting their disappointments as they head out the tunnel after him. Strong and daring, Ike is able to temporarily evade their pursuit. Eventually, Ike is surrounded and all that is needed for his release is an apology. Eager to make his case, Ike apologizes. He just wanted to have some fun!
Although Ike’s idea of fun is usually chasing and wrestling with other chimps, one of my favorite stories is the day he showed me his silly side…
I was cleaning in the Chimp Night Room (the area where the chimps sleep) when I saw Ike lazily lying on his back. All stretched out with a bucket sitting next to him, he was totally relaxed. When he noticed my stare, he sat up and grabbed his bucket. I thought I had ruined his moment, but it was quite the opposite. At once he began requesting some water from my hose. He held the bucket to the front and I began to fill it. When he had gotten enough water he swiftly turned around and laid back down with his bucket at his side. Much to my delight he reached over to his bucket and dunked his fingers in the water. Then he quickly pulled them out, stuck them in his mouth, and sucked them dry! With a loud “pop!” he pulled his fingers out of his mouth and went back to the bucket for more.
I smiled as I continued to clean and in the background I heard “pop! … pop! … pop!” Ike came back to me twice for bucket refills. Each time saying “thank you” with a playface and a couple happy pants as he turned around lay down.
We both had a lot of fun that day!