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Blog Archives: 10/2017

Toy Pet Monkeys: Helpful or Harmful?

Becca Banks October 27, 2017

According to Toys-R-Us’ Hot Toy List, monkey fingerlings are going to be one of the most coveted gifts for kids this holiday season. Monkey fingerlings are robotic, interactive toys that are small enough to slide around a child’s finger. The mechanized monkeys can burp, laugh, blink, fart, make noises and even sense when they’re being touched, talked to or hung upside down. The creators of the toy, WowWee, made sure to include all of the endearing and delightful qualities of monkeys when making the fingerlings, but they left out a few key, less desirable traits of monkeys.

WowWee's Monkey Fingerling, Bella

If the creators of the fingerlings tried to actually portray what it would be like for someone to own a monkey as a pet, they’d have to really amp up their design. First, they’d need the toy to have very sharp canines and nails made out of a material strong enough to break through plastic, rubber, fabric, glass and basically any other material found in a typical household. Second, they’d need to infect the toy pet monkey with a live virus that could be transmissible, since monkeys carry debilitating—even lethal—diseases. Finally, WowWee would have to find a way for the toys to engage in unexpectedly wild and unpredictable behaviors around age 5 or 6—the age that real monkeys hit puberty. It’s no wonder that WowWee couldn’t make the fingerlings more realistic…what parent would want to purchase for their child a toy that is dangerous, aggressive or threatening? That certainly wouldn’t make for a desirable playmate.

Luckily, the fingerling toys that WowWee came up with pose no real threat to children or someone’s home. However, we wonder if they may be posing a threat to the unfortunate monkeys that end up in the exotic pet trade. While fingerlings are a great alternative to actually owning a pet monkey, could owning one potentially entice a family or child to want a real monkey as a pet? While this notion may seem far-fetched, it’s not unheard of. How many children first learned the responsibilities of caring for an animal when their parents bought them a FurReal Friends dog? After seeing their child completely smitten by the fake dog, how many parents take the next step of adopting a dog for the family? If fingerling toys are making monkeys out to be these docile, snuggly pets, could WowWee be unintentionally fueling the exotic pet trade for monkeys?

While we would be thrilled to see the fingerling toys replace any want for pet monkeys, we fear that they may have a harmful impact instead. If you see the popular toys being played with by children around you this holiday season, remind them that toy monkeys are much more fun to play with than real ones.

Two peas in a pod!

Tori Himes October 16, 2017

Crested black macaques, also known as Sulawesi macaques, are an old world monkey species found on a group of Indonesian Islands. They have several striking features, such as their reddish-brown eyes, long muzzle with high cheekbones, and a long hair tuft at the top of the head. Another notable feature is their very short and non-visible tail stub, giving them a slight ape-like appearance. They are omnivores who are particularly fond of fruit and will grow to nearly 2 feet tall. In the wild, where their native habitat is largely mountains or tropical rainforest, Sulawesi macaques may travel in groups of 50 or more. This primate species is threatened by overhunting for food in Sulawesi where their meat is considered a delicacy. Human settlement, land clearing for agriculture and logging also threaten their habitat. While this is a problem in many areas worldwide, Sulawesi is particularly sensitive as it is an island and therefore has a limited amount of land for its wildlife and the expanding human population.

Two Sulawesi macaques, Mandy and Maggie, live at the Primate Rescue Center.

Maggie (left) and Mandy (right)

Maggie is estimated to have been born in 1993. She is a former pet from Missouri, a state that unfortunately has no restrictions on the ownership of exotic animals. Maggie joined us at the PRC in 1998 and has been a great companion to several fellow monkeys.

Maggie is a bit quieter and is the dominant one of the duo. Being dominant allows her to be in control as well as keeping the peace in the relationship. Like other monkeys, Maggie has some stereotypies that she will exhibit when she is nervous. These are repetitive movements and behaviors that monkeys usually exhibit when trying to cope with stress. This is an unfortunate result from of being taken from their mothers at birth. Although Maggie has her ways of coping with her stress, she lives a very happy life with the companionship from Mandy and the attention from her caregivers.

Mandy was born in 1997 and is also a former pet from Missouri. Her previous owners treated her well; however, they decided that her days were better spent in an enriching environment with other monkeys and where she could receive the best care possible. Mandy arrived to the PRC in 2005 and has happily lived with Maggie ever since.

Mandy is very talkative and loves to say hello to all who pass by. She will chatter and make high pitch squeals as she quickly smacks her lips, a common way that many monkeys show their excitement. Mandy also is a big fan of her soft blankets and will make a large pile of them to sleep on.

Mandy and Maggie are both available to sponsor through our Primate Pal program, or if you’d like to send them a gift, you can check out our Amazon Wish List. Also be sure to check our social media pages listed below to follow updates of our other residents and to stay in the loop of all things primate!





Primate Perspective: Shedding Light on Issues of Primates in Captivity

Melanie Parker October 06, 2017

As an organization, our mission is to alleviate the suffering of primates in captivity, but our work will never be enough if we don't educate others on how to help us reach this goal. This blog content is taken directly from our very own volunteer orientation packet, and is a way for us to let incoming volunteers know that we sincerely hope they will become a part of the change that needs to happen by keeping the following informational notes in mind in their daily life. We hope that anyone reading this will become a part of that change too.

Primates in captivity live in a variety of situations, including:

  • True Sanctuaries – ex. Primate Rescue Center
    • Facilities that truly strive to make the animals in their care the top priority, and seek to give them a peaceful, healthy, safe, socially enriching life.
    • They have trained staff who develop and implement proper diet, enrichment, and enclosure maintenance plans.
    • They practice safe procedures when working with animals (ex. not entering enclosures with animals inside, not allowing animals out of their enclosure, not allowing visitors, volunteers, interns, or non-caregiver staff to touch, feed, or hand out anything to any primate).
    • They provide animals with expert veterinary care.
    • They are against exhibition of animal residents (ie. Closed to the public) and are generally a non-profit facility.
    • Can include:
  1. Accredited Sanctuaries – ex. NAPSA sanctuaries accredited by GFAS, with standards that must be met to gain accreditation.
  2. Other Sanctuaries – can be similar to NAPSA accredited sanctuaries, but are either not choosing to go through the accreditation process, or are currently in the process of working toward accreditation.
  • AZA Accredited Zoos – ex. Louisville Zoo, accredited by the American Zoological Association.
  • Roadside zoos or Fake sanctuaries – substandard facilities lacking trained, experience care staff, proper funding, safety practices, diet, veterinary care, or enrichment programs. Many animals suffer years of abuse, neglect, and isolation. Do not visit or financially support this type of facility. Do your research before purchasing tickets and read reviews. If any facility allows people to pay to pose with or hold wild, exotic, or endangered animals for pictures, allows animals to breed so that they have baby animals for “enrichment encounters” with humans, forces animals to perform tricks for a show or audience, allows direct contact of any kind with wild animals, or is known to take wild animals off property for “educational shows”, they are not a real sanctuary.
  • Entertainment Industry – using animals to make a profit by forcing/training them to perform unnatural behaviors, such as “smiling” (this is actually known as a fear grin), wearing clothing or diapers, smoking, performing tricks, wearing makeup or hairstyle, interacting with an animal of another species, or having direct contact with humans.  Many times animals endure years of physical, mental, and emotional abuse. They are used until they grow too difficult to handle safely, and many end up in roadside zoos, only to be replaced by another generation of baby primates who will suffer the same fate. Financially supporting, promoting, or patronizing any business that uses primates as entertainment only helps these trainers to continue the cycle of abuse. Don’t buy items that feature primates in unnatural settings, such as birthday cards, shirts, calendars, etc. Don’t go to movies that feature primates or any animals performing trained behaviors. Don’t support businesses that use primates in their advertising campaigns.
  • Biomedical or Behavioral Laboratories – animals are used in experiments that can range from observational to physically invasive and painful. All animals used in experimentation are forced to live in very unnatural, controlled, sterile environments, typically without an enriching social life or diet. An easy way to help end animal experimentation: Pay attention to the labels of products you buy, especially cleaning supplies and cosmetics. Purchase items that show the Leaping Bunny symbol and support products that do not test on animals.
  • Pet Sellers/Breeders – primates are bred repeatedly and their babies are ripped away from them so they can be sold to individuals as pets. Primates can find themselves in a variety of situations in homes, ranging from somewhat adequate care to abusive (improper diet, lack of normal companionship, no access to proper shelter, no veterinary care, physical restraint or violence, mutilation by removing teeth, etc., general neglect, and fear). Primates should never be kept as pets!

***The PRC, as well as many true sanctuaries have USDA licenses, however this licensing does not guarantee that a facility is a reputable place. Many facilities that fall under the Roadside Zoo or Fake Sanctuary category also hold a USDA license.

Social Media Awareness: Posting, sharing, or liking images of primates in unnatural settings only continues to spread the falsehood that primates are not endangered and are not sentient beings. Every movie, commercial, FB video or image depicting a primate performing an unnatural behavior such as “smiling” (this is actually known as a fear grin), wearing clothing or diapers, smoking, performing tricks, wearing makeup or hairstyle, interacting with an animal of another species (ex. monkey with puppies, orangutan and tiger, etc.), or having direct contact with humans, or “smiling” for the camera only further fuels the primate pet trade, and increases the chances of more primates being added to the entertainment industry.

Easy ways for you to get involved:

• Research before visiting or supporting any animal facility

• Don’t support any business, movie, or television program that uses primates as entertainment or for an advertising campaign

• Purchase products that do not test on animals by looking for the Leaping Bunny logo

• Don’t post, share, or like images on social media of primates performing unnatural behaviors (see above for examples)

• Speak with lawmakers to encourage tougher animal protection laws.

Do not ever purchase an exotic animal as a pet. An exotic animal is any species that is not native to the area you live. Even less dangerous exotic animals fuel the exotic animal trade in general and contribute to the suffering of countless lives. PRC believes that only domesticated animals should be household pets.

Happy Birthday, Donald!

Laura Clifford October 01, 2017

Our Alpha male, Donald, celebrated his 43rd birthday last week, and we threw him a pirate-themed birthday party! For each chimp's birthday, we pick a theme and throw them a big party to celebrate. They love walking into a room full of new and interesting decorations and even some tasty treats. Streamers, boxes, and other paper goods are always a big hit since their favorite part of the party is usually ripping everything to shreds! The staff, interns, and volunteers who get to decorate for the parties love hearing the excited pant-hoots as the chimps enter the enclosure and explore every aspect of the party. Thank you to our generous birthday sponsors, Julia E, Jennifer M, Stacey B, Gina L, Ken & Jill M, and Jean B, who made Donald's pirate party possible!


Donald, enjoying playing in the leaves. 

Rodney, finding treats in the treasure boxes.

Donald, Ike and Noelle playing in the leaves and searching for treats!

Donald, enjoying some tasty nuts from his treasure chest!



If you would like to sponsor a party, we still have plenty of birthdays coming up! Victoria has a birthday next month, and for as little as $25 you can sponsor her party. You can make a donation online or mail a check and add "for Victoria's birthday party" to the comments/memo section!

Remembering Shatar

Melanie Parker October 01, 2017

It is with heavy hearts that we share with you of the passing of Shatar Barbary macaque. Shatar came to the PRC in October of 2013 at the estimated age of 14, along with her friends Saidah, Soda, and Rex Barbary macaques, from the Las Vegas Zoo. This roadside menagerie was home to over 200 animals, who were left abandoned by zoo staff after their decision to all walk off the job, leaving sanctuaries and rescue services with the task of finding placement for all of the zoo residents.

Once PRC co-founder, April Truitt, heard about the abandoned macaques and a chimp named Terry who lived in isolation for years at the zoo, a rescue effort was quickly planned to bring all four Barbary macaques to the sanctuary and transport Terry chimpanzee to Save the Chimps in Florida.

With no medical history to guide us, Shatar and her companions were given full veterinary examinations to determine any health issues and rehabilitation needs amongst the group. After little to no medical care at their former residence, it was clear that the years of neglect had taken a toll on this foursome, and they were in need of dental work, deworming, antibiotic treatment, a healthy diet, and an enriching social life.

During her time at the PRC, Shatar spent time in a few different monkey groupings, being paired up with fellow Barbary Soda, spending time with Japanese macaque Jake, and finally forming a trio with Saidah, and George rhesus macaque.

Saidah and Shatar truly enjoyed each other's company, and often sat together on a preferred perch to take in the sanctuary sights and sounds and watch over their young adopted son George. Shatar and her best friend Saidah were often observed hugging and grooming each other and chattering their teeth in an excited lip smack upon the arrival of breakfast or their favorite snack, lettuce.

Shatar was crucial in helping young George learn some monkey manners and how to behave in a group of macaques, as opposed to the traumatic life he had lived in a human home.  She gave him love, groomed him as if he were her own, and even scolded him when he was naughty and a little too rambunctious, like any good mother would.

We will all remember her for her unique and beautiful eyes, her lovely olive-blond coat, and her squeals of joy when talking with her companions and neighbors. Shatar's life was not an easy one before she came to the sanctuary, but we hope the quiet serenity she found in her creek-side home in the woods gave her peace and made her feel safe and comforted in the final years of her life.

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