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:
- Accredited Sanctuaries – ex. NAPSA sanctuaries accredited by GFAS, with standards that must be met to gain accreditation.
- 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.