Monkey World Primate Rescue Centre
Charlie (sadly recently deceased).
Monkey World is a 65-acre Ape rescue centre in Dorset, England. It was set up in 1987 by the late Jim Cronin to provide permanent homes for abused Spanish beach chimps. Today, his Wife, Dr. Alison Cronin continues to work with foreign governments worldwide to stop the illegal smuggling of primates from Africa, Asia and South America.
Today the primates residing at Monkey World have varying backgrounds, for example some are ex-laboratory animals, others are victims of the pet trade, one is even a former TV star.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Monkey World for myself after following the associated TV series "Monkey Business", and later "Monkey Life", for the many years it has been broadcast. It had become an ambition of mine to see this wonderful place for myself, and to finally "meet" the victims of some of the terrible cruelty man has inflicted on his fellow primates. Such cases as:
Trudy, who was confiscated from Circus owner Mary Chipperfield after she was caught on hidden camera beating baby Trudy with a riding crop.
Kay, who was rescued from being a photographers prop in Spain. When she arrived at Monkey World she continuously rocked back and forth, probably as a result of being taken from her mother at a very young age.
Çarlie, (pronounced Charlie, and not to be confused with the Charlie at the top of this article who sadly died recently). Çarli was captive born in the USA and bred for the entertainment industry. He appeared in the Jungle Book movie. As a television actor, he would have been taken from his mother at birth. Since 1998, Çarli had been working in Turkey making a television series. His last owners realised that what he needed was companionship of his own kind and asked Monkey World to give him a retirement home and a family of his own kind.
Pacito, who was rescued from a garden shed in Barcelona. When he arrived at the park he had no idea of chimpanzee behaviour and couldn't even climb. It took him along time to learn the skills he needed, but he learnt a lot from Charlie and now fits in very well within the Bachelor group.
Bryan, who was smuggled from the wild in Africa, through Cuba, and then on to Mexico where he was purchased by a beach photographer as a prop. The Mexican authorities confiscated Bryan, but not before the photographer had knocked out all but four of his teeth. This must have been incredibly painful and traumatic, as fragments of baby teeth were found still embedded in his gums.
Lulu, who was born in a circus in Cyprus. After her mother bit her arm it became badly infected, so a Cypriot family saved her life by taking her home and getting their doctor to amputate the infected limb. She gets along very well without her right arm so much so that most people do not realise that she is missing the arm.
One thing is for sure, at Monkey World the resident primates can enjoy the company of their own kind in as natural an environment as possible outside of their native countries.
There are so many more touching stories that I cannot possibly put them all down here, and strongly suggest a visit to the Monkey World website , where all of these stories and more can be found, along with further information on how to help Monkey World continue the wonderful work it has been doing for so many years now.
Monkey World has the largest group of chimpanzees outside of Africa. These have been split into three main groups. Many people were adamant that chimpanzees rescued from such terrible backgrounds could never adapt to living in a social group again, and that Jim Cronin was wasting his time even trying to form them into natural groups, however, Jim was convinced his plans would be successful, and he was right.
Today each of the groups are run by a dominant male- Paddy, Hananya and Butch. The chimpanzee nursery is run by caring foster mum Sally, a Spanish beach photographer's prop rescued in 1993, and one-armed Lulu, rescued from a travelling circus in Cyprus and taken to Monkey World in the year 2000; the nursery is for rescued youngsters or chimpanzees born at Monkey World due to failed birth control.
Chimpanzees are endangered in the wild due to habitat destruction, the bushmeat trade and the illegal pet trade. They come from west and central Africa and live for up to 50 years on a diet of fruit, seeds, nuts, flowers, insects, leaves, eggs and small vertebrates.
When the park opened there was only one orang-utan at Monkey World, and this was Amy, the Mother of the first baby, Gordon, born in 1997. Now there are three groups of Bornean orang-utans living at the park, and they form part of an international breeding programme, as well as a crèche for orphaned youngsters.
The largest male at the park is an orang-utan called Tuan, who was found wandering loose in Taiwan. It is likely he had been smuggled from the wild as a baby and kept as a pet before escaping on to the streets.
In the wild orang-utans are seriously endangered by habitat destruction and illegal smuggling that has had a severe impact on their numbers. They are native to the tropical rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo and feed on leaves, flowers, seeds, insects, small mammals, eggs, bark, buds etc.
Eighty-eight capuchins were rescued from a laboratory in Santiago, Chile, and arrived at Monkey World in January 2008. They had previously been kept in solitary cages without any physical or mental stimulation, some for as long as twenty years. Now they can interact with each other and enjoy spacious enclosures. This was the biggest primate rescue operation that Monkey World had ever undertaken.
Additionally there is Terri, who came from a London family where she was kept indoors as a pet. Then there is TJ, who was forcibly removed from his mother as a baby and sold as a pet from a small British menagerie. Gismo spent years living in solitary confinement in a shed and was badly injured. All of these monkeys are now rehabilitated and love to play outdoors together.
Capuchin monkeys come from central and south America. They can live up to 40 years in small multi-male groups. They inhabit rainforests and woodlands, living off fruit, seeds and small animal prey. They have a prehensile tail (much like having an extra hand), which helps them to grip to branches. They have a delightful habit of scent marking their areas by washing their hands and feet in their own urine!
There are 15 common marmosets living at Monkey World in male, female and family groups. Most were rescued- some from a UK laboratory and others from the UK pet trade. As they require a specialised diet several of them arrived at the park with nutritional bone disease and poor social skills.
Common marmosets are some of the smallest rainforest monkeys, weighing under 500g. They come from Brazil where they live in family groups where only the dominant female breeds. The whole group raise the youngsters. Their enlarged incisor teeth are used for gouging out holes in trees to extract gums, resins and saps. They also eat a lot of insects.
The ring-tailed Lemurs.
Malagasy is a park within the main park where a group of ring-tailed lemurs roam free in their own area of woodland. Some of these came from European zoos, others were born at the park. Visitors can walk through this enclosure and enjoy very close encounters with these beautiful primates.
Ring-tailed lemurs inhabit spiny desert, dry forest and scrub areas or Madagascar where their numbers are threatened by growth of human settlements and hunting. On average they live over 25 years, feeding on leaves, bark, sap and flowers, but fruit makes up 70 percent of their diet.
The Squirrel Monkeys
Some of these were rescued from a Dutch laboratory, others from the British pet trade. Fortunately the lab monkeys had not been subjected to experiments, but they had been caged and had no experience of natural outdoor surroundings. Now they have an active life chasing insects in beautiful outdoor enclosures.
Squirrel monkeys enjoy insects, fruit and seeds, wild squirrel monkeys will also eat frogs, snails, crabs and other small animal prey available in their riverine forest and mangrove swamp habitat in Brazil, Guyana, French Guiana, Surinam, Venezuela and Columbia. They live in multi-male groups of up to 40 monkeys.
Five species of Gibbons reside at Monkey World- siamand, Mueller's, golden-cheeked, agile and lar gibbons.
Their muscial calls can be heard throughout the park. The majority of these rescued gibbons had been smuggled from the wild for the illegal pet and circus trade, and arrived from: France, UK, the Russian Federation and Taiwan. Most of them have now been paired up with others of their own kind. Only the golden-cheeked gibbons are part of an international breeding programme.
Gibbons live in the forests of South-east Asia, extending into China and India. Their diet consists of fruit, supplemented by insects, small mammals, birds and eggs. Many are critically endangered due to habitat destruction. They have a unique ball-and-socket wrist joint that enables them to have an amazing agility when swinging through the trees.
The Woolly Monkeys.
There two groups of woolly monkeys at Monkey World that form a part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme, (EEP). Some of them came from a Dutch primate park and some were rescued from the illegal pet trades in Spain, the UK and the island of St. Martin. At 34 Xusy is the oldest woolly monkey on record.
Woolly monkeys come from the Amazon rainforest and live in mixed groups dominated by one male. Their diet includes fruit, seeds, leaves, gums, flowers and small animal prey. They forage for food with both hands whilst using their prehensile tail as a third arm to hold on to branches.
The Stump-Tailed Macaques.
The stump-tailed macaques (fondly nicknamed the 'Ugly Monkeys' by the staff at Monkey World), came from a British Laboratory where they were used for asthma research. They were caged alone, indoors, unfit and overweight. They now live together as a group enjoying their retirement with the company of their own kind in a natural outdoor environment.
Human disturbance has led to stump-tailed macaques being listed as 'vulnerable' in the forests of Southern China and South-east Asia, where they live in mixed-sex groups of up to 50 individuals. Their natural diet consists of fruits, leaves and invertebrates. These powerfully built primates are active in the trees and on the ground during the day.
Jim Cronin and Charlie Memorial
- Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre -
Monkey World, the chimpanzee rescue centre, based in Wareham, Dorset, UK, Rescue and Rehabilitation of primates world wide.