Primarily Primates Newsletter
The Wondrous Capuchin
My favorite perk of working with Friends of Animals is easily the occasional trip to Primarily Primates. I’ve been lucky enough to travel there a couple times a year for the past six years — a journey for which I never tire.
When I return, my curious, primate-starved friends always ask the same questions: Did you hang out with the chimps? Did you get to feed them? Did you try to hug them?
First thing’s first: If I had tried to hug a chimpanzee, I would not be writing this. I’d either be missing a few muchneeded body parts, or I’d be resting in the ground somewhere for eternity. That is to say, chimpanzees, even those in an idyllic sanctuary, are dangerous — especially after they’ve been traumatized and exploited by humans. Secondly, my true obsession at Primarily Primates is actually the capuchin monkey, a tinier primate than the chimpanzee, who I immediately fell in love with during my first visit in 2007.
Capuchins are exceptionally cute. Sadly, that probably explains why so many people buy them as pets, even though they — like all primates — make terrible pets. That Primarily Primates is home to so many capuchins is proof.
Capuchins cost $6,500 and up. People buy them and unconsciously pretend they are human babies by dressing them up in diapers and infant clothes. They tend to look perversely adorable. Unfortunately, this is legal in most states.
Capuchins sexually mature around two years of age, and that’s when the you-knowwhat hits the proverbial fans. Actually, it’s when you-know-what is likely to get thrown at you because they become aggressive, violent and dangerous. That’s often when owners try to find a place like Primarily Primates that will take their capuchins.
Capuchins are indigenous to Central and South America, and in the wild they live in groups of 10–40. They’re omnivorous, and very smart. It’s well documented that they not only use tools, but they teach their offspring how to perform complicated tasks using tools too. Their intelligence is why they are exploited in the name of science (vivisection); it’s also why the entertainment industry routinely enslaves them. Certainly, many people know what a capuchin monkey looks like simply (and sadly) because they routinely make appearances in blockbuster movies and pop singers’ music videos.
During my visits to Primarily Primates, I especially enjoy sitting in the grass and simply watching the capuchins’ expressive, inquisitive faces. Their curiosity is contagious. They’re protective, playful and observant. I never get bored watching them.
I am not supposed to admit that I have a favorite monkey, but I do: Sampson. He’s an ex-pet, and I like to pretend that he is my spirit animal. Sampson is extremely smart and attuned to life at the sanctuary and what its other residents are up to. I wish I understood the capuchin language, because I know what he’s saying — he never stops communicating — is wise, brilliant and entertaining. He makes me laugh, even though I don’t understand all the jokes.
In the wild, capuchins only live to be 15–25. In captivity, like those at Primarily Primates, they can live to be in their mid-40’s — a ripe old age for a tiny monkey. Of course, that means a lifetime of care that is quite expensive.
I don’t know when I will be going back to the sanctuary, but when I do you can always find me near the capuchins. I may or may not be sitting near Sampson, but I will definitely have a smile on my face. Sampson will probably have a smile on his face, too, though not because of me. Just because. Capuchins are amazing like that.
The residents at Primarily Primates are lucky to have such a generous community of supporters. I hope you’ll consider sponsoring a capuchin. Primarily Primates accepts recurring debit, and only $10 a month provides food, state of the art veterinary care and enrichment for these delightful primates.20-Hour Trek to Little Rock, Arkansas Fetches Lennie
Recent arrivals like Matilda, a golden spider monkey, capuchin monkeys Ace and Dexter and most recently Lennie, an African patas guenon, appear at Primarily Primates after we’ve received urgent phone calls from law enforcement or others desperately trying to locate a suitable sanctuary.
Lennie was rescued in late October when Stephen Tello drove from San Antonio to Arkansas to retrieve him from the folks at the Mill Mountain Zoo in Roanoke, Va., who had agreed to transport the monkey halfway to Texas.
Adult male patas monkeys weigh between 15 and 30 lbs. They have long canines that they love to show off to threaten intruders. Their agility and strength is easily underestimated since their limbs are so long and lanky. Designed for speed, Patas are known as the ground-dwelling sprint runners of the primate world because they can reach speeds as high as 35 mph.
Originally purchased as a pet when he was a baby, Lennie lived with a family for about four years. Lennie was likely played with and cared for as an infant. But the playful youngster who was once part of the family matured quickly, like all monkeys, and it likely shocked his owners when Lennie became difficult and aggressive.
They relegated him to an uncomfortable small cage in the basement. Locked away like a bad secret, Lennie was deprived of the attention he wanted and needed. To make matters worse, his owners decided to move to another state where private possession of monkeys was prohibited. They quickly learned that it’s not easy to pass a pet patas monkey off to someone else.
However, employees at the Mill Mountain Zoo wanted to help Lennie find a proper home and convinced the owners to surrender Lennie to them. The zoo workers called Primarily Primates and agreed to provide an initial TB test, as well as cover partial transportation to the sanctuary. They explained to Primarily Primates that if the owners were asked to pay the minimum sanctuary placement fee they’d prefer to have Lennie euthanized. Since Primarily Primates already has a single female patas named April who just lost her mate, we quickly waived the placement fee for Lennie assuming he and April would likely be compatible.
Through rehabilitation, Lennie will meet April and finally get to know another patas monkey. Until then as we learn more about Lennie, he will have a beautiful, grass-bottomed habitat large enough for him to run in and hide.
Rescuing a primate from the pet trade continues to be a thrill for us at Primarily Primates. There is still much work to be done. As more states enact laws prohibiting the ownership of wild animals, primates like Lennie will need refuges.
To help us meet animal placement challenges in 2014, please continue to offer your financial support. Every gift helps feed and care for chimpanzees, monkeys, gibbons, lemurs, birds and other animals released from animal exploitation industries.A Time for Tailgating and Enrichment
When fall arrived in Texas, the leaves turned red, yellow and gold around the sanctuary and the temperatures began to drop, leaving behind 90-degree days and providing sensory enrichment opportunities.
Other signs of the season were football games and tailgating, a Texas tradition with a culture of its own. It provided a perfect theme for a festive culinary event in October as food provides its own opportunity for enrichment. The aroma of veggie dogs and vegan Fritos pie swept through the sanctuary. Our animal care department wore letterman jackets and cheerleading uniforms. Local law enforcement joined in the celebration by playing collegiate fight songs over their PA systems. It was a memorable day at the sanctuary and there was no better place for a primate (or human) to be.
We celebrated our progress and the many achievements that we have been able to accomplish for the animals this year.
✔ Disco Balls for
✔ Golf balls for capuchin monkeys? Done.
✔ Jolly Balls for our coatimundi? Absolutely.
So far so very good for our Amazon Wish List, which has received terrific support from kind-hearted members like you.
This holiday season, we will be adding many new enrichment items to the list, so please check back soon and continue to help us make a difference in the lives of our amazing animals.Ace and Dexter: New Arrivals
They arrived without a dramatic story, fanfare or a penny to their names. But at least the next chapter in the life of Dexter and Ace, two juvenile capuchins who were confiscated by federal authorities in Baytown, Texas, and brought to Primarily Primates, is going to be filled with autonomy, dignity and care.
Ace, a three-year-old male, and Dexter, a five-year-old male, were taken from a Baytown resident by federal agents. There is no record describing the nature of the confiscation, only a simple signed release form that would allow them to be taken to the City of Baytown Animal Shelter. When the federal agents arrived at the shelter with a small collapsible cage, barely large enough to hold the two capuchins, staff members accepted the primates and put them into quarantine.
They realized though that they were not equipped to care for the two juvenile primates, who needed a permanent home and care. Hours later, when they called Primarily Primates, the concern about the capuchins was palpable in their voices. When asked about the monkeys’ history, they said, “Two men in black suits walked in, placed the monkeys on a table, handed us a release form, and then left.”
Immediately I knew we could provide a home and sponsors for Ace and Dexter in San Antonio since they were exactly the type of primates we rescue, and the shelter staff was relieved to hear it. While their life story thus far was vague, we knew the capuchins were ex-pets, who for one reason or another were separated from their owners and temporarily lost in the system.
During their initial health check, we discovered the diapers they were wearing had caused a terrible rash with sores. In addition, they were very underweight. The shelter staff told us that the primates arrived with two baby bottles. Way past their infant period, they were still on baby formula and barely eating infant cereal. Dexter, who was the most affected by the changes, sat with his blanket rocking back and forth. He was also castrated, which could pose problems for him as he continues to mature.
With so many issues to resolve for these orphans, the first thing we did was get them back on their old, familiar diet. Then we could wean them onto a better diet. We also placed them next to a family of four female capuchins. It is with this group that the story of Ace and Dexter continues to unfold at the sanctuary thanks to members’ support.Stay Involved
You can follow our day-to-day work by “liking” Primarily Primates page on Facebook, and by viewing our website, www. PrimarilyPrimates.org, which has links to our YouTube and Twitter accounts. We work hard to keep supporters updated and to offer interesting visuals of the sanctuary’s cherished residents.
Your financial support is critical. It both fuels and defines our best efforts.
President, Primarily Primates
Memorials, Gifts & Dedication Donations
To honor Melessa Cowen’s retirement from
30 years of teaching
Cheryl M Ressmann
Bob & Renee Mink
Vincent E. Valdes
Criselda C. Dougherty – “Happy Retirement”
Susan S Kruger – “Gift in honor of Melessa”
In memory of our canine companion Gypsy
In honor of Oliver
In honor of the marriage of Ms. Kaya Adams
Judith K. Brown
In memory of Blackie, the best vet clinic cat who ever was
In memory of Annette Bolgla
Carol Bullock Clemmons
In honor of Candy, Baton Rouge’s lone chimp
Holly Reynolds, president, Foundation for
In honor of all God’s creatures
In honor of Stephen and Maggie
In memory of Charles and Kay Clausing
Miriam E. Bisbing
In memory of our GSD Maya
In honor of our son’s (Damian) birthday
Karen & Stephen Dantinne
- Be Careful What You Wish For!
- Project Oliver, Film Producer Andy Cockrum On Inspiration From Chimpanzees
- Playing and Stargazing Under the Dome: The Future For Our Chimpanzees
- The Life and Times of Oliver, A Chimpanzee
- Needing You More Than Ever
- Chimpanzees: We Can Work It Out
- The Director’s Diary: Leaf-Eating Monkeys With Booming Whoops
- A Match Made In Heaven
- Spotlight on Willie and Friends
- The Director’s Diary: Rescued Macaque Monkeys Faring Well
- The Director’s Diary: The Arrival of Joey, a Capuchin Monkey
- Max and Lorenzo: Two Great Escapes
- The Fruit of a New Alliance: The Primarily Primates Advisory Board
- Who’s That New Chimpanzee – Curious George? No, It’s Buck!
- Birds Spread Their Wings At Their New Home
- Kecko’s Story
Who Is a Lemur, and Why Would One Live in Texas?
- Sun and Wind Provide Power for Primarily Primates - Fall 2008
- Update: The Emma and Jackson Custody Case Closes - June 2008
- What’s New at Primarily Primates
Updates from Priscilla Feral and Stephen Rene Tello - February 2008
- Dear Friend of Primarily Primates: - December 5, 2007
- New Direction; New Hope: Welcome Message and Sanctuary Updates from Stephen R. Tello, Executive Director of PPI - June 28, 2007