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Volunteers Needed! - 2016 Member Event

Melanie Parker April 30, 2016 Comments (0)

Coming up on May 21 is the PRC’s Annual Member Event, and to help us welcome our beloved members, we need more Special Event Volunteers for this unique day at the sanctuary.

We rely heavily on volunteers to help us make this event a success. We still have a need for a few extra hands in the following areas:

• Education and Guest Safety
• Merchandise Sales
• Raffle Ticket Sales
• Children’s Area
• Face Painting
• Concessions
• Parking

This special day gives our members the opportunity to visit the sanctuary and see how their donations make an important impact on the lives of our primate residents, but we can’t pull it off without the help of people like you.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining our Special Event Volunteer Team, please email Melanie at or go directly to Online Registration and sign up now.

We hope that you will join our team and become part of this amazing experience!


Happy for Cats, Hopeful for Primates

Erika Fleury April 24, 2016 Comments (0)

It has been almost a year since captive chimpanzees won equal protections under the Endangered Species Act. Exotic animal laws haven’t changed much since then, although it is important to remain optimistic. Now you may be hopeful than ever, as the past month brought with it new protections offered to big cats. Read more to learn why this is significant.

In March 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) released an announcement regarding the handling of young cats. They stressed that newborn and infant nondomestic cats 28 days of age or younger have unique husbandry needs, including an inability to thermoregulate and an undeveloped immune system. As a result, APHIS recommends that neonatal cats not be handled by the public or exposed to other animals. They should, instead, be housed with the mother, or if not, in a controlled and sanitary heated enclosure.

Many a profiteering roadside zoo and wildlife safari show off their infant tigers. The innocent looking cubs draw crowds, and the more unscrupulous establishments encourage people to pose with tiger cubs in photos. The new APHIS regulations are significant because for the first time, neonatal cats, such as the aforementioned infant tigers, will be able to enjoy a healthy infancy instead of being treated as a photography prop or a sideshow.

In April 2016 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a rule declaring that “generic” tigers (meaning, tigers of indeterminate or hybridized species) are no longer exempt from certain permitting requirements. The sale of any tiger across state lines will now be regulated and subject to scrutiny by authorities.

No longer may the creative breeding of hybrid tigers be used as a cunning method of avoiding permits and authoritative oversight. Like the loophole that used to limit protections for (and increase the exploitation of) captive chimpanzees in the United States, “[r]emoving the loophole that enabled some tigers to be sold for purposes that do not benefit tigers in the wild will strengthen protections for these magnificent creatures and help reduce the trade in tigers that is so detrimental to wild populations,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “This will be a positive driver for tiger conservation.”

Sea change does not come in one big, all-encompassing wave – but rather, in currents and tides that drive water to creep a bit higher, and then a bit more. Progress for cats is a big thing, even for nonhuman primates, because it is proof that the needs of exotic animals are being considered, evaluated, and labeled as a higher priority.

Carlos, a former pet long-tailed macaque, was sold at a pet auction when he was only one week old. He now lives at the PRC.

One hopes that, not too far behind these rulings, there may come similar ones for primates. Neonatal primates are very needy, and primates can exhibit abnormal and even harmful behavior for decades after an unhealthy or traumatic infancy. It is imperative that no matter where primates are used, exploited, housed and raised, that at the very least they are ensured the proper start in life. This means not being removed from their mother, not being handled by humans, and kept in a clean, nurturing and safe environment. Although it is preferred that the sale of nonhuman primates be fully banned, the next best thing would be to regulate the sale of primates across state lines.

All exotic animals deserve to live safe lives that are protected from exploitation.

So be happy for cats. Be hopeful for nonhuman primates.

Scentsational Enrichment!

Laura Clifford April 19, 2016 Comments (0)

One of the most important things we do for our residents is provide them with new and interesting enrichment. Enrichment can be anything from new or unusual scents, to food, toys, and games. Recently the chimps and monkeys have been enjoying some new scent enrichment. We like to use natural, non-toxic scents like flowers, spices, and essential oils, which we get through donations. We put these scents on toys, blankets, or other items that they use to make beds, or even on the walls of their enclosures.


The chimps also enjoy looking at their essential oil diffuser, which we set up in front of a window looking into their playroom.

Something as simple as a new scent might not seem like much to you and me, but for our chimps and monkeys it is something new and exciting! If you would like to donate enrichment items for our monkeys and chimps, check out our Amazon wish list here.  Also, be sure and check us out on Facebook and Instagram to see videos of our residents enjoying all sorts of fun enrichment items!

Spring Fever

Eileen Dunnington April 15, 2016 Comments (0)

The chimps are kissing winter goodbye and embracing sun-filled days spent lounging, grooming and playing in their massive outdoor enclosure. What better way to ring in springtime festivities than by throwing the first outdoor chimp party of the season? Our outstanding PRC volunteers donated brightly-colored, hard-boiled eggs and plastic eggs filled with nuts, dried fruit and other tasty treats to be hidden all over the chimps’ outdoor area. The gang had a blast racing through the grass, climbing platforms and searching high and low to grab up as many scrumptious eggs as they could get their hands on.

Donald (left), Vicky (right)

Noelle (left), Rodney (right) 


Pozna (left), Zulu (right)

Out with the old and in with the new! The monkeys kick off the spring season with a home makeover in their outdoor enclosures. Enrichment from their previous set-up is switched out and replaced with enticing new structures to climb and explore. Swings, slides, water pools, perches and large plastic toys are just a glimpse of the variety that they will experience as the items are rotated between houses regularly during the warmer months.  Smaller toys such as balls and stuffed animals are added, along with the occasional surprise treat; Piñatas, frozen juice and forage pools filled with seeds, nuts and popcorn never fail to delight!

Capuchin monkey, Cysgo, feasts on the colorful picnic of fresh produce in his feed basket.

Java macaques, Luke (left) and Ciera (right), bond on a sunny afternoon while searching through the pine shavings in their forage pool. 

Bubbles (left) and Zoe (right), Java macaques, enjoy puzzle-type toys that have lots of gears and gadgets to tinker with.

Luke can’t wait to break into his piñata and see what goodies await him!

Youngsters, Carlos (left, Java macaque) and Rainy (right, Rhesus macaque) cook up trouble in their freshly enriched enclosure.

Sulawesi macaques, Maggie (left) and Mandy (right) chatter to each other as they bask in the sunshine.

Motor Mania

PRC Staff March 19, 2016 Comments (0)

By: Becca Banks

This post is in response to one of our young donors who asked during a visit: “Why do you need so many things to drive?” For Dylan and all you gearheads out there, let me introduce you to our small army of multi-purpose vehicles.

The PRC occupies 30+ acres of land, and we rely on a variety of vehicles to help us transport materials, equipment, animals and people around the property, around town and even around the country!

Let’s start with the off-road machines:

The Green Machine (GM for short) is the ultimate utility vehicle. With rugged, sturdy tires and four-wheel drive capability, it can get us through mud, snow and even over the creek when the water’s down! Although the front is similar to a golf cart—truck style seating with arm bars and a plastic windshield—the metal bed of the machine has high sides, hydraulic dump capability, and a flip-down tailgate to transport - or dump - nearly anything. We use it to haul straw and clippings to our compost heap, to transport large toys, and even to get to the top of our driveway when it becomes treacherous in the snowy winter months.

Next up is the golf cart that our caregivers use every day to deliver food, water, blankets and other supplies to the monkeys and apes. Depending on what time of the day you spot it, our cart could be loaded down with lettuce, seeds, monkey chow, freshly chopped produce or cups of lunch and dinner. Fitted with a full-length roof, our cart keeps the supplies, as well as the caregivers, nice and dry.

One of the more unusual members of our fleet is the ToolCat. Interchangeable implements on the lift-and-tilt front frame allow us to move cages with forks, gravel and mulch with a bucket, brush with a grapple attachment, and snow off the driveway with a rotary broom. Four wheel steering capability allows us to get in and out of tight spaces where nothing else can fit. We are so grateful to Clay Miller for donating this indispensible machine to us! Having this on hand makes us wonder how we ever did without it.

Last, but certainly not least, is our produce van. It is essential in transporting supplies to the center and even assisting with animal transport during rescues. Each morning, we take the van to three local Kroger Grocery stores to collect bins of donated produce. Occasionally, it returns to us with over 40 bins loaded with amazing fruits and vegetables for the primates! We also use it to transport bales of straw, bags of pine shavings, monkey chow and many other donated products. This vehicle bears our PRC logo, so look for it around town and give us a honk of support!

Fresh Volunteer Faces!

Melanie Parker February 18, 2016 Comments (0)

We’re happy to announce and welcome 4 new volunteers to the PRC’s On-Site Animal Care Volunteer Team!

Mari Schroeder, a Dietetics major at the University of Kentucky, began volunteering with us in October 2015.

Samantha Thomas, who earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology/Chemistry from the University of Indianapolis, began volunteering with the PRC in November 2015.

Victoria Turbyfill, a Zoo and Conservation Science major from Otterbein University, joined the volunteer team in December 2015. Victoria was with us for 8 weeks, and will return in the summer to continue volunteering.

Michelle Meeker, a Biology major at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, began volunteering at the PRC in January 2016.

We are so thrilled to have these girls become a part of the On-Site Animal Care Volunteer Program, and look forward to seeing them each week.

Our On-Site Animal Care Volunteers are a vital part of our daily routine at the sanctuary, assisting care staff with food preparation, enrichment, and cleaning. Volunteers have the opportunity to observe primate behavior, interact with primates from a safe distance, and gain the satisfaction of knowing they are improving the lives of chimps and monkeys! If you are interested in applying for a volunteer position at the Primate Rescue Center, I encourage you to check out the Volunteering Options on our website.

Flea Markets: The New Monkey Black Market?

Erika Fleury January 25, 2016 Comments (0)

It may be illegal to sell primates to private individuals within the state of Kentucky, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Even more surprisingly, such illegal sales often occur in broad daylight and in public places throughout local communities.

Increasingly, there are reports of vendors selling small monkeys at Kentucky flea markets. Hidden amongst dusty furniture and vintage comic books, it’s not uncommon to spy display cages housing infant monkeys such as marmosets and tamarins.

The dealers usually hail from border states like Indiana and Tennessee, where private ownership of primates is legal. Upon arrival in Kentucky, they make easy sales of the exotic animals because the animals are not easy to procure in the state otherwise. The sale is particularly favorable for the dealer because there is no responsibility after that! If a person has a problem with their monkey, or wants to return him or her for any reason, there is literally no way to do so. Have you ever returned something purchased at a flea market? Of course not.

Caveat emptor, or “let the buyer beware”, is a standard principle for any marketplace, but only scratches the surface of the issues involved with unregulated sale of nonhuman primates – who are not only endangered animals worthy of protection, but who also have specific needs of which the average person is unaware.

There are many reasons why primates make terrible pets. In order to be healthy, primates must have a balanced and varied diet, regular medical care, large areas in which to swing, nest, and play, and they need social experiences. Primates are all highly social creatures, and one of the worst things that can be done to a primate is to raise him or her in isolation. When monkeys or apes are deprived of proper care, they suffer both physically and psychologically. Aggression commonly occurs when a primate grows out of infancy and becomes stronger and more independent. It’s at this point, if not before, that a person who blindly purchased an infant monkey to cuddle and swaddle starts to regret that decision.

And then what?

Primate Rescue Center staff members field calls daily from people desperate to rehome their once beloved pet monkeys. However, demand is higher than space available at sanctuaries throughout the country. Often, sanctuaries have to turn down such requests because it would require the building of a new enclosure to house the animal. This costs money, of course, and by the time sanctuaries get such frantic phone calls, oftentimes callers have already spent all they can afford on their exotic pet.

Owners of pet primates are then stuck with an animal they are unable to properly care for. The animals themselves are stuck living in unhealthy and inappropriate living conditions. The sanctuary is stuck because although it wants to help, it cannot take in more animals than can be responsibly cared for. The only people not stuck in this desperate situation are the exotic animal dealers who swept into the state, made some quick money, and left behind a trail of doomed pets in their wake.

The life expectancy of marmosets and tamarins in captivity is 15-20 years, illustrating that this problem is not a short-term one. The Primate Rescue Center has already received phone calls from the regretful owners of monkeys purchased at area flea markets, and the number of calls is sure to grow as long as consumers continue doing business with exotic animal breeders and dealers.

Kentucky wildlife officials were notified of illegal commerce in marmosets at a recent flea market. By the time they were able to seek out the offending vendor, there was only one cage left on display. Almost all the vendor’s monkeys had been sold throughout the day - yet another influx of illegal pets headed off to unprepared homes throughout the state.

If you know of a person illegally selling, purchasing or housing a nonhuman primate, please contact your local Fish and Wildlife Department.

Hungry Anyone?

Brandi Hunt January 12, 2016 Comments (0)

One of the tasks we look forward to at the PRC is making lunch and dinner for the primates. We have created a Daily Cookbook full of special, creative recipes that the staff has formulated to be healthy and nutritious for our residents. These recipes are measured to feed lunch for the chimps and a smaller portion to the monkeys for dinner. Most of our recipes look and smell so delicious that the staff and volunteers always want to try a bite! Each day is always different from the next and our residents never get the same meal over several weeks. Our staff just loves to invent new recipes, so we are always adding to our cookbook! Below is definitely a favorite for our chimps and monkeys, and we would like to share it with you! Try it at home and see what you think! Remember, this is a large portion (feeding 50 primates) so you may need to cut it down.


Crunchy Pear and Apple Yogurt

~10 Cups Pears

~5 Cups Apples

~270 grams Pretzels

~4 cups of Greek Yogurt

Cut Apples and Pears into 1-inch pieces. Add pretzels and yogurt. Mix well and serve!

Opie and Maddie - Together at Last

Melanie Parker December 09, 2015 Comments (0)

Anytime we rescue a new monkey, we have several initial steps to begin their rehabilitation. We first assess their overall health with a full veterinary examination. Then, we help them get accustomed to our daily routine and healthy diet. Once they have become comfortable with their new routine, we try to introduce them to another monkey or group of monkeys so that they can have a full and more normal social life. Because primates are such social animals, it is extremely important for a primate’s mental health to build relationships with other primates. One of our most recent successful rehabilitations and introductions was with pig-tail macaque Opie.

Opie arrived at the PRC in the winter of 2014. We immediately started planning for an eventual pairing with Maddie, another pig-tail macaque who arrived at the PRC in 2007. Maddie was initially introduced to a group of long-tailed macaques where she lived happily for many years. She seemed like the perfect companion for Opie.

Opie (left), Maddie (right)

After quarantine and riding out the winter (we don’t do introductions in colder months), we finalized our plans to reorganize some of the monkey house residents in order to free up a space for Maddie and Opie to live together as a pair.

After months of preparation, we finally were able to successfully introduce these two sweet, beautiful monkeys. Now, they are living happily together in one of our monkey houses! They are still getting to know each other, but so far they are moving freely throughout their space. They are able to eat together and enjoy each other’s company without any signs of aggression. They both seem very happy, calm, and generally peaceful together, which is all we could hope for in a monkey introduction.

West Sixth Brewery Raises 5k for the PRC

Eileen Dunnington November 13, 2015 Comments (0)


We at the Primate Rescue Center would like to raise our glasses and give a huge thank you to West Sixth Brewery for raising a heaping five thousand dollars to donate to the care and keeping of the 41 primates who reside here in our sanctuary. From the beginning of April through the end of June, West Sixth has donated fifty cents from each six pack of their Pay it Forward Cocoa Porter sold in Central Kentucky. We would also like to thank Clark Distributing and Liquor Barn for generously matching each 50 cent donation from six packs sold at their locations.

Pay it Forward Cocoa Porter is one of six delicious craft brews being sold as a part of the  "Sixth for a Cause" campaign. Each beer is paired with a local non-profit to raise money from six packs sold in their respective areas. Every three months, West Sixth votes on another six charities to sponsor. We greatly appreciate Kelsey Hargis and Fiona Young-Brown for nominating the Primate Rescue Center for the Central Kentucky region in the Pay it Forward program.

In addition to supporting local charities through Pay it Forward, West Sixth also hosts a monthly Sixth for a Cause event at the brewery. A different non-profit is selected each month and the taproom is set up to raise funds and awareness for their cause. The featured charity also receives a donation of six percent of the night's sales. To learn more about West Sixth's community outreach and how you can help, visit or check out their Facebook page for updates on upcoming events.

"This extremely generous donation will help us help the amazing primates that we rescue, especially as we go into the winter months and have expensive heating bills," says sanctuary manager, Eileen Dunnington. We cannot thank West Sixth Brewery enough for their outstanding generosity and compassion. We look forward to supporting their future endeavors as they change lives and transform communities one beer at a time.

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