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Oh My Bob, What Big Teeth You Have!

Eileen Dunnington May 03, 2013 Comments (2)

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.

Celebrate National Volunteer Week

Melanie Parker April 22, 2013 Comments (0)

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.

  • Melissa Firestone – Veteran Volunteer since May 2003
  • Wally Littell – Veteran Volunteer since July 2006
  • Cheryl Parson- Veteran Volunteer since October 2006
  • Gina Lyons – Veteran Volunteer since November 2009
  • Amie LeMaster – Veteran Volunteer since October 2011
  • Janet Spare- Veteran Volunteer since November 2011
  • Chelsea Weaver - Veteran Volunteer since February 2012
  • Lisa Scott – Volunteer since June 2012
  • Clare Ezar – Volunteer since June 2012
  • Donna Reynolds – Volunteer since August 2012
  • Robert Resch – Volunteer since August 2012
  • Beth Goldenberg – Volunteer since October 2012
  • Mary Broach – Volunteer since December 2012
  • Heather Bridges – Volunteer since December 2012

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.

  • Retta Ritchie-Holbrook - Veteran Volunteer since November 2010 (also former on-site volunteer)
  • Chelsea Southworth – volunteering since September 2011
  • Erin Pyrek – volunteering since November 2012

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.

New Internship Opportunities at the Primate Rescue Center

Eileen Dunnington April 05, 2013 Comments (0)

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.

No Longer Bursting at the Seams

Eileen Dunnington March 21, 2013 Comments (0)

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!

Special Recipes

Melanie Parker March 14, 2013 Comments (0)

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.

Cran-Apple Crunch


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.

What is a True Sanctuary?

Eileen Dunnington March 10, 2013 Comments (0)

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.

“An Embarrassment of Chimpanzees”

April Truitt February 10, 2013 Comments (0)

In 2002, this is how writer Jospeh D'Agnese memorably referred to the massive surplus of chimpanzees the U.S. biomedical community found themselves burdened by. After mistakenly assuming decades earlier that our closest cousins would be the perfect research model for the then newly-emerging HIV virus, labs were encouraged to breed as many as they could, as quickly as they could. They did exactly that  during the 1980's. By the late 1990's the U.S. government owned well over 400 chimpanzees, most of whom languished in research facilities - a warehousing of sorts. As the last Western country still using chimpanzees for biomedical research, the demand for chimps as lab subjects had dried up.

Fast forward to 2013, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) continues to struggle with the question of what to do with hundreds of these long-lived, resource-intensive individuals for whom they have no "work." Captive chimpanzees can easily live six decades or more,  Where and how they will live has been a subject of much discussion recently, but an even more important aspect of this dilemma involves the funding required to provide lifetime care to these former research subjects when and if they are finally retired. Who should pay the millions of dollars necessary for them to live out their lives in sanctuaries?

For more about this topic, see:

Obstacles to Financing for Retired Chimpanzees  NY Times 12/24/12

Agency Moves to Retire Most Research Chimps  NY Times 1/23/13

After Lab, What's Next for Chimps?  Lexington Herald-Leader 2/10/13

Spider Tails

Melanie Parker January 31, 2013 Comments (0)

Some of the most interesting monkeys at the Primate Rescue Center are our three spider monkeys; Chester, Bisou, and Dehlia. 

Unlike most other monkeys, spider monkeys have incredibly strong, prehensile tails that can do just about anything that an arm and hand can do, so it’s always fun to watch them move and play in their enclosure.  Whether it’s swinging, climbing, brachiating, or running as fast as they can down the length of their enclosure to try and “race” our golf cart, those tails are moving and grabbing just like a fifth limb.  Toward the end of their tail on the underside, there is a small strip of hairless skin with actual “finger prints”, just like our hands!



They use their tails to grab a piece of food that’s out of arms reach, and sometimes we catch Chester hanging by only his tail so that he can devote all his other limbs to playing or eating a tasty treat, much like the wild spider monkey in the picture below. So the next time you find yourself with too much to do, instead of wishing you had more hands…think about how productive you could be with a tail like the spider monkeys☺

Martina’s Political Influence

Eileen Dunnington January 25, 2013 Comments (0)

Our lovely Martina just celebrated her 22nd birthday this past Monday. Martina is an extremely intelligent and calm chimpanzee with a bit of a bossy streak, and she has a very interesting social position in our chimpanzee troop. She is much younger than our older female chimpanzees who are in their early 40s, so she garners more attention from the males of the troop. The fact that she is older than the younger chimpanzees, who are in their mid teens, earns her more respect and authority. She certainly uses these advantages to gain status and wield influence.     


Recently, she has been getting away with stealing breakfast from Ike and Cory. There are even times where Martina can steal breakfast from our alpha (leader) male Donald. Most of the time the boys just conceded to her requests for their mangos or other breakfast items without any protest. But, if anyone else tried to steal their mangos the whole Chimp House would erupt in yelling and screaming, and that chimpanzee would be chased outside and reprimanded for their blatant disregard for the rank and file of the troop.

So, why can Martina get away with stealing breakfast from higher-ranking chimpanzees and others can’t? It is all in the chimpanzee politics. Over the last few weeks, Ike and Cory have been directing their displays towards each other. This is just part of a slow process between these young adolescents who are gradually trying to position themselves to become the next alpha of the troop. Martina will play a key role as this develops over time. Gaining her support will be a huge advantage when the alpha transition occurs. The support of the rest of the females in the troop is important as well, but Martina’s influence may sway them towards her choice. So, even though the young boys have a bit of growing up to do before one of them can lead the troop, Martina is certainly enjoying collecting those political favors.

First Snow and Memories of Warmer Days!

Eileen Dunnington January 07, 2013 Comments (0)

With the first snow now mostly melted from the ground, we still can’t believe that winter is here. This summer and fall were a blur! As the days get colder and colder, we often spend time wishing for those warmer days. Each summer our food preparation area gets a little crowded, and we see a myriad of new faces as people take advantage of their extra free time and participate in volunteer and internship opportunities at the PRC. Some of these volunteers and interns are temporary, having to leave at the end of the summer to return to school and work, and some also come from quite far to spend their summer days with us alongside our faithful year-round volunteer crew.

Workdays go by in a flash—summertime is actually our time for “spring cleaning,” because we are able to get those larger cleaning projects accomplished with all our extra volunteer and intern help. Each of our volunteers and interns are eager to contribute to the care of our near 50 primates, no matter how dirty or labor intensive.

We can always tell when winter is around the corner, because the chimps reduce their big mealtime displays reserved for those new summer faces, and caretakers begin to reclaim our routine meal preparation tasks that are usually solely performed by volunteers and interns in the summer months. We often immediately look forward to the next summer and hope that our familiar faces return again. We especially look forward to the return of retired Florida resident Wally Littell, who makes the long RV trip each summer bringing along his special “produce/work shirt” that is now a summer fixture at the sanctuary. This past summer was Wally’s 7th summer volunteering with the PRC, keeping our food preparation area spic and span and scrubbing our produce bins for the next produce pick up. 

As we endure the winter weather, we remember and are eternally grateful for the volunteers and interns, whether new or recurring, who donate both their time and energy over the summer months. Now that the doors and windows are closed up for the winter season, we count the days until we can feel the warm sun, greet new faces, and see Wally drive down and occupy his designated parking spot!

Please click the Get Involved tab on our website to find out more information about our volunteer and internship opportunities. Spots are limited, so apply today!

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