Primarily Primates Newsletter
Autumn 2010

The Director’s Diary:

Rescued Macaque Monkeys Faring Well

Update from Stephen Rene Tello | Autumn 2010

In mid-July, a group of 25 Java Macaques arrived at Primarily Primates after their release from a New Jersey toxicology lab that went out of business. There were 55 macaque monkeys. All had been used in experiments. Sanctuaries were found for all of them. Twenty-five came to Primarily Primates.

The macaques arrived wearing blue restraint collars that made it easier for the vivisectors to control them. The hard plastic collars were removed as soon as they arrived, and Dr. Valerie Kirk, our on-site veterinarian, assessed the monkeys’ health.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to find out what goes on behind closed doors at labs that use animals in experiments, yet we know these primates were forced-fed chemicals to see how their bodies would react—a process called gavage (literally “forced feeding”).

While the long-term health of these animals is yet unknown, their individual and collective transition to Primarily Primates has been astounding. Imagine: these monkeys have lived their entire lives (four to six years) in miniscule lab cages, in solitary confinement. The only interaction they received from anyone involved a lab worker. Now, they are living in spacious enclosures, with other macaques.

After their arrival, the macaques slowly started acting like macaques. They began to groom and interact with one another; they established roles within their new groups. They came to life in their activities—maybe for the first time ever.

It’s moving to witness their personalities emerge and relationships form; like us, they form friendships with one another, incite play, get frustrated, or are moved to help and guide each other.

Through Twitter, people have learned about the rescue, and decided to help sponsor them by sending $10 a month for their care. We are so grateful for this help, and because we expect them to live for decades, their care is long term and quite expensive. Our youngest macaque sponsor, a promising young advocate named Angus, is not yet a year old—what a great example!

Here are the names of the new macaques (in their groupings) and the individuals who graciously offered to help support them:

Group #1. Brownie, B.B. & Blondie
Group #2. Buzzbee & Theo
Group #3. Gabriel, Bojangles, Peanut & Tonks
Group #4. Peg, Teddy, Don & Shy Guy
Group #5. Shiva, Neville & Kera
Group #6. Rudy, Lazarou & Blaise
Group #7. Edwin, Monchou & Milano
Group #8. Jupiter, Lee & Bruce

Thanks to Lee Hall, Raymond Ho, Cathryn Chachon, Asma Mosheni, Joann Thistle, Milana Tractenberg, Parker Lewis, Barbara Sitomer, Cathy Burt, Priscilla Feral, Andy Cockrum, Lisa Vale (with Angus and Miki), Jane Geis and Christine Berk for sponsoring these animals. If you’d like to sponsor one of the new macaques, please contact Primarily Primates.

Spotlight on 11-Year-Old Jewel

Jewell was born at a research laboratory owned by The Coulston Foundation in New Mexico —a descendant of the chimpanzees owned by the Air Force and known as the Space Chimps. Jewel arrived at Primarily Primates at the age of one and soon became best friends with one-year-old Deeter, a chimpanzee already at the sanctuary whose mother arrived pregnant when the Air Force began to divest itself of the chimpanzees held at Coulston, and released a group of 30 to Primarily Primates.

Jewel and Deeter grew up together and held each other when they slept.

Today, Jewel lives with Hope, Grace, Amy, Mallory, Stella and Deeter too in one of the newly constructed, grass-bottomed habitats full of toys, hammocks and climbing structures. Jewel’s close to 3-year-old Grace and is a kind adolescent who exerts a positive dynamic in this cohesive chimpanzee family.

Jewel’s favorite treats are grapes, graham crackers, dried cherries and raisins.

Photo by: Stephen Tello

Arrell: We Miss You

Lions are the jungle’s royalty, people say, and Arrell—a 24-year-old black-maned African lion—ruled at Primarily Primates. Arrell’s roar thundered through Texas hill country until the last day. Arrell was humanely helped to pass out of this world on Friday, May 21, after a period of declining health.

Primarily Primates learned of Arrell on September 17, 2003, after receiving a letter from Buffalo Roam, a big cat sanctuary in Texas. Faced with closure, the big cat sanctuary placed several cats with Primarily Primates. Arrell was one.

In the late 1980s, Arrell was sold as a cub to a circus, and taken to a veterinarian to be declawed. The circus representative never returned to claim Arrell, who was sold again, to a Texarkana, Texas resident who would call Buffalo Roam in 1993 and transfer the lion (and a Siberian tiger).

Arrell developed arthritis in his front ankles, an ailment which weighed on him as an adult; yet at Primarily Primates, Arrell was a social animal. He loved to play hide and seek, and stalk his caregivers as they approached his shaded enclosure near the pond. He seemed to be pouncing out and surprising his unsuspecting prey.

Arrell was loved by us all.

Baby Neytiri, Photo by: Jane Seymour

Habitats Become Greener for Spider Monkeys

Arrell’s former enclosure will soon be a new habitat for spider monkeys. The living space, which is being designed and built under the direction of Tracey Jackson, has fencing encompassing an entire Southern Live Oak tree—making the enclosure quite expansive and naturalistic. Spider monkeys will have plenty of room to swing, climb, explore and congregate. Already, the space looks beautiful.

New residents will include Tina Marie, Minkey and baby Neytiri. Although the enclosure will be completed by November 2010, the move won’t happen until March 2011 because of cold weather. We’ll keep you posted.



Six Extraordinarily Vocal Parrots Arrive

In August, six parrots arrived to live in the aviary by the pond—all of them Blue and Gold Macaws. Although these birds are indigenous to South America, they are unfortunately very popular as pets because of their intelligence and vocalizations, yet their loudness also prompts pet-owners to discard them. These birds typically mate for life and raise families together, compounding the terrible unfairness of taking them away from their natural homes.

The birds arrived in pairs from a bird rescue group in New York state that needed to find them a permanent placement. One pair, now 5 years old, was surrendered when their owner died. The other two pairs are 30 years old and 10 years old.

A week after their arrival, the parrots were introduced to a Scarlet Macaw already living in the aviary. Although it’s normal to expect some territorial disputes, the introduction was non-eventful; the birds all seemed more in awe of their sunny, spacious surroundings than one another—and we’re confident they will all flock together.

Macaws can live 30 to 50 years, and Primarily Primates will be home for these birds for the rest of their lives. It costs a minimum of $1,000 a year to properly care for a parrot, so your donations to the sanctuary are very much appreciated.

A Round of Applause for our 2010 Sanctuary Partners for Chimpanzees!


Golden Sponsor
Pamela Starr McKenna

Primarily Primates Daily Champion
B. Andrew Dutcher

Special Member in Amy’s Circle
Tina Upton

Kathleen Lupe • Marietta Harris • Laura L. Lubin
Janette Craig • Lorraine Wright • Brian Kelleher Nancy R. Sacerdote and Alan S. Sacerdote
Stacy Vrame • Denise Boggs • Jean K. McBride
Jill Denton • Marcia P. Lane • Maryanne Appel
Mrs. Revel Miller • Edith K. Kraemer • Eva Matz
Chris Cook • Bett Sundermeyer • Elvira Maldonado

Many Thanks . . .

We love Labatt Food Service in San Antonio. They’ve donated 800 pounds of mixed bird seeds with peanuts to offer the sanctuary’s macaques and other primates.

Your Help Assures a Future

Heartfelt thanks for investing in the refuge through membership support and special funding requests. It means the world to us, and about 400 residents who depend on us.

Warm regards,

Priscilla Feral, President

Stephen Rene Tello, Executive Director