Primate Rescue Center

Have a Drink, Help a Primate

Erika Fleury June 17, 2015

Lexington-based West Sixth Brewing is crafting beer to benefit six non-profit organizations across Kentucky, including the Primate Rescue Center that sits on 30 acres in Jessamine County.

The brewing company is paying 50 cents for every six pack of its Pay It Forward Cocoa Porter sold in the central Kentucky region to the organization, which offers sanctuary to more than 50 monkeys and apes.

Known for its community outreach, West Sixth introduced the Cocoa Porter on draft in its tap room a few years ago, during a kickoff event for the GoodGiving Guide Challenge — an annual campaign organized by the Blue Grass Community Foundation and Smiley Pete Publishing that seeks to increase giving to nonprofits. “It seemed natural, since it was the launch of the GoodGiving Guide, to call it the Pay It Forward Cocoa Porter,” said Ben Self, cofounder of West Sixth.

When the company decided to can the beer shortly after that, it chose to take the Pay It Forward concept to the next level, Self said. Now, West Sixth employees select one nonprofit from each of the Louisville, northern Kentucky/Cincinnati, eastern Kentucky, western Kentucky, southern Kentucky and central Kentucky regions of the state to benefit from Cocoa Porter sales every three months. “It's been a part of the West Sixth mission since the beginning to be supportive of nonprofits in our distribution area, and so this was a great way to do it.”

Also in the central Kentucky region, both Liquor Barn and Clark Distributing are matching West Sixth's donation of 50 cents per six pack, Self said. Sales will continue to benefit the Primate Rescue Center through the end of June.

West Sixth and the Primate Rescue Center had cooperated before the Pay It Forward selection, said April Truitt, cofounder and executive director of the nonprofit.
“(West Sixth has) supported our member event, which we have each May, and they have been very supportive of that through donations for our silent auction,” Truitt said. “ ... It wasn't a surprise to them that there is the Primate Rescue Center here in Jessamine County, as it is to many of our residents who don't know we're here.”

Two supporters of the Primate Rescue Center nominated the nonprofit for the program, Truitt said. “It was really wonderful that they were able to put this together and that they selected us,” Truitt added.

Formed in the 1980s, the Primate Rescue Center sits on Bethel Road in Nicholasville. Its structures — including a state-of-the-art chimpanzee enclosure — offer safe space for the animals, the majority of which come from owners who were no longer willing or able to keep them as pets. The center also works to end the trade of primates, educates the public on the trade, assists researchers and zoo personnel in finding homes for primates and encourages compliance with laws related to animal welfare.

So far, 18 nonprofits have benefited or are benefiting from the Pay It Forward initiative over the course of three donation cycles. About $25,000 total was donated in the first cycle, and between $15,000 and $20,000 was donated in the second cycle, Self said.

Money raised for the Primate Rescue Center will likely be added to the organization's general fund for animal care, Truitt said. The cost of caring for the resident chimpanzees and monkeys can average anywhere from $15 to $40 a day, according to the organization's website. But more thrilling than the money that will be received is the exposure Pay It Forward lends the center, Truitt said. “The awareness is really the positive aspect of this,” Truitt said. “Because we're not open to the public on a regular basis, it's very difficult to spread the word about our work both in the county and beyond. So we're always glad for an opportunity to help spread the word about what we do and about the larger picture of primates in trouble in the United States.”

Making the experience enjoyable for the nonprofits is one of West Sixth's main goals, Self said. “We try to keep it very light on the nonprofits,” Self said. “One of the challenges is that all these nonprofits, they're trying so hard to do all the good things they're doing. The last thing they need is more work, and we're very conscious of that.” 

Although there are “no strings attached” as far as promoting West Sixth, the Primate Rescue Center is encouraging its patrons to purchase six packs of the Cocoa Porter. “We are drumming up support for this program and for West Sixth in general,” Truitt said. “This cooperative effort is a wonderful opportunity for both organizations.”

Self said eight stores in Jessamine County currently sell the beer, described on West Sixth's website as “a celebration of malt.” “Dark and rich with overtones of coffee and dark chocolate, it's chewy and yet smooth at the same time. Brewed at almost imperial porter strength, we add over 60 pounds of the best cacao nibs in each 40 barrel batch,” reads the description.

At the end of the quarter, West Sixth will host a party for the board members, staff and volunteers of the six nonprofits that were chosen, Self said. Although West Sixth would like to lend a hand to as many nonprofits as possible, Self supposed that the Primate Rescue Center could be selected for the Pay It Forward program again in the future if employees felt strongly enough about offering it support.

Regardless, Truitt looks forward to the Primate Rescue Center's continued partnership with West Sixth for years to come. “It's really very exciting, and really, for us, just the perfect kind of cooperative effort that we look for,” Truitt said.

For more information on the Pay It Forward Cocoa Porter or to nominate a non-profit organization, visit westsixth.com. To donate to the Primate Rescue Center, visit primaterescue.org.

- The Jessamine Journal

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