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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.

Thank You Summer 2015 Interns

Eileen Dunnington October 20, 2015 Comments (0)

We had a really great group of interns this summer! They worked so hard and really made a difference in the primates’ lives! Follow this link to find out how you can experience this amazing opportunity. We are currently accepting local applications for the fall and winter sessions.

Rebecca Banks

Becca grew up right around the corner in Nicholasville. She currently attends Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY as an Animal Studies major. She is in the Animal Studies Club and the Honors Program at EKU. After she graduates, she would like to work at a sanctuary or rehabilitation facility for exotic animals.

Becca commuted to the sanctuary several days each week. She worked really hard during her internship, and her favorite task was pressure washing…anything! She enjoyed providing a healthy environment for the primates and watching them re-enter their clean and enriched enclosures.

Becca quickly fell in love with Pozna Chimpanzee. She loved walking in the chimp kitchen and seeing her welcoming face. Becca really liked watching Pozna make her elaborate nests and laying in them with her feet in the air.

Becca completed 260 hours during her summer internship from June 1 to August 19, 2015. We are so happy that she has decided to continue making a difference in the primates’ lives by completing another internship this fall!

Hanna Constant

Hanna is from Tyronza, Arkansas. She currently attends Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas as an Anthropology major. She will be graduating in December, and she is looking for career opportunities with wildlife, including in the sanctuary setting as well as state enforcement agencies.

Hanna lived on the sanctuary property for the summer, and she really enjoyed walking down the stairs each morning and seeing the chimps get excited to see her.
Her favorite task was throwing birthday parties for the chimps and says that she will never forget the happy noises they make as they all forage for the hidden treats and toys.

Hanna instantly bonded with Rodney Chimpanzee on her very first day. As the weeks went by, Rodney would sit outside with her until he slowly drifted into an afternoon nap.  She felt a connection with him every time they would look at one another.

Hanna completed 480 hours during her summer internship from June 1 to August 12, 2015. She says that she misses so much about the PRC already, from seeing Cory causing ruckus to Zulu’s kisses and how Rainey turns upside down when you talk with her. We wish Hanna luck in her career pursuits and hope she visits whenever she is traveling near or through Kentucky!

Rebekah Hawk

Becky is originally from Chicago. She recently graduated from Miami University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Anthropology. She started the Anthropology Club at Miami University and was a teacher’s assistant for Physical Anthropology. She also studied abroad in Madagascar with Lemurs. Becky wants to return to school to further her studies in primatology and conservation.

Becky lived on the sanctuary property for the summer and says she loved the sounds of the sanctuary. She really enjoys having all the primates as her neighbors. Her favorite task was cleaning the outdoor enclosure and prepping it with forage treats scattered in the tall grasses. She found it so rewarding to watch the chimps get excited to go back outside.

Becky was drawn to the Primate Rescue Center by her favorite primate species, the gibbon. She loved hearing the calls of our Jenny Gibbon fill the sanctuary. But, over the months, Cory Chimpanzee has stolen her heart. She loves Cory’s adorable personality and how much fun he has interacting with everyone.

Becky completed 500 hours during her summer internship from June 9 to August 31, 2015. We are extremely thrilled that Becky will continue her experience at the PRC in our One Year Internship Program. Her dedication, positive attitude, and kind heart will continue to make a difference in our residents’ lives.

Volunteer News Update – September 2015

Melanie Parker October 01, 2015 Comments (0)

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

Jenny Smith, who works at UK Hospital in the emergency department, began volunteering with us in April.


Grace Meloy travels all the way from Cincinnati to volunteer with us each week. Grace works at the Cincinnati Zoo, and began volunteering in July.


Veronica Seawall is a student at EKU studying Animal Science and joined the volunteer team in August.


Andrea Merchak, a former PRC intern from 2013, has returned to the sanctuary to volunteer after recently graduating from Centre College.

We are so excited to have these girls become a part of the Volunteer Program, and look forward to seeing them each week. 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.

Party Time!

Laura Clifford June 17, 2015 Comments (1)

When any of our chimps have a birthday, we like to go all out and arrange a big celebration! We try to make each birthday as fun and exciting as possible, and it is always great to have the help of our supporters, members, and volunteers to make each party special. We recently began having individuals sponsor each chimp’s birthday celebration, and we want to say Thank You to those who have sponsored a party this year! Here are some photos from our most recent birthday celebrations:






Cheryl Parson sponsored Hazel's birthday, Beth Goldenberg sponsored Cory’s birthday, Amie LeMaster sponsored Jenny’s birthday, and Melissa Firestone sponsored Ike’s birthday. Thank you to each of you for your generosity, and for giving those chimps a special birthday. We still have plenty of chimps who need birthday sponsors including Zulu, who has a birthday coming up on June 30th! Most of the party supplies come from the dollar store, so for as little as $25, you too can sponsor a chimp birthday party. For more information on how you can sponsor one of our upcoming birthdays email us here.

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