Primarily Primates Newsletter
Primarily Primates just received certification from the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS)—the only globally recognized organization providing standards for identifying legitimate animal sanctuaries and rescue centers. See Video.
“I have enjoyed working with Primarily Primates on the verification process,” said Patty Finch, the executive director of GFAS. “It is an important and large sanctuary, housing many of the most difficult to place animals, such as chimpanzees, many species of monkeys, and parrots. No matter what level of detail was requested of the sanctuary, they provided it without complaint. With more than 400 animals, it was quite a task for them.”
We are delighted by this recognition, as it allows our supporters to know that we take the difficult business of running a top-notch sanctuary seriously. The review was in-depth and rigorous, and it’s ongoing.
“The accreditation committee was impressed that 19 new outdoor, natural substrate large enclosures have been built at Primarily Primates since 2007,” Patty Finch continued.
“Such development is financially challenging, so we are pleased that Primarily Primates has been able to achieve these improvements, even in this economy, showing their determination to do what is best for the animals. Their detailed plan for future improvements is impressive. They are also on a path to continuous improvements in enrichment, which is always a fun challenge for all sanctuaries, especially when dealing with chimpanzees, monkeys and parrots!”
Part of the extensive verification process involved planning to develop and improve the sanctuary over the long term. While we’ve already built 19 new, outdoor enclosures, and continued to modify and enrich existing habitats, we’ve also developed a plan to transform the corn-crib habitats that house many of the smaller primates at the sanctuary—particularly capuchin monkeys.
The corn-crib enclosures were built at a time when they were considered state-of-the-art; they’re relatively spacious, and easy to clean (because they have cement-bottoms which hose off easily). A couple of decades later, the sanctuary community is shifting from convenience for care staff into creating living spaces which resemble true habitat. This means grass-bottomed floors and live foliage. The new enclosures we’ve already built have incorporated live trees and plants into the design; that will continue.
We’ll keep a few of the traditional enclosures to house the sick, injured or the newly arrived—those for whom keen observation is paramount. We’ve developed a plan, however, to build connectors on the remaining ones, with tunnels that will lead to grass-bottomed, spacious play areas, complete with sandboxes and other enrichments. We’ve already provided extra climbing and lounging structures in all of the corn-crib living areas—but they’ll eventually become much larger and more exciting.
Our plan will take 3–5 years to complete—and it will be expensive. As always, it’s because of our members’ generous support that we are able to continuously move forward. We appreciate you more than words can express. Thank you.
If you have a Facebook account, please “like” our Primarily Primates page—which is updated regularly by our enrichment coordinator, Shelly Ladd. You’ll find photos, videos and plenty of anecdotes that are guaranteed to brighten your day. (Just type in “Primarily Primates” in the search bar on your Facebook homepage.)
Stephen Rene Tello,
Other New Residents
We’re now home to five blue and gold macaws who came from Sun Coast Bird Sanctuary—which wanted to see the large and boisterous macaws in larger aviaries. We now house 14 macaws: one green wing, one scarlet, and 12 blue and gold.
Their transition to the sanctuary was practically seamless. Other than a little territorial squabbling at the beginning—which is to be expected—the birds are all coexisting peacefully in the spacious aviary overlooking the pond. They have quite the beautiful view!
We’ve also welcomed a new kinkajou named Ivor—who came to us from Jungle Friends sanctuary. Ivor, who had once been a pet, is a self-mutilator. The habit is caused by and exacerbated by stress. We’re doing everything possible to ensure a smooth transition—including a plan to introduce him to Nilla, one of our resident female kinkajous.
Kinkajous, who are related to raccoons are also known as honey bears, do best in pairs rather than groups. In captive settings, groups create too much stress, and don’t allow for kinkajoos’ natural territoriality.
We’re taking it slow, but we hope Ivor will grow to love Nilla—and stop self-mutilating. We’ll keep you posted on Ivor’s progress.Introductions
Neytiri, the baby spider monkey, was finally (re)introduced to her parents Minkie and Tina Marie. Neytiri originally had to be bottle-fed by humans for about a year and a half, because Tina Marie was unable to produce milk for her—perhaps due to her advanced age.
The transition began in July 2011—but Neytiri wasn’t used to the baby, and the weather was hot. The baby had to be removed again. We began the transition again in August—and with great success this time around.
It’s hard to know how an introduction will go. We wondered whether Tina Marie and Minkey would accept Neytiri, but despite our fears, she’s back with her parents—who’ve welcomed her presence. That’s not to say they are pleased that Neytiri gets a few extra treats because she needs the nutrition, but we’re happy to report that a happy ending to a long story.
Animals arrive at Primarily Primates for all kinds of reasons, and in all kinds of ways, but Victor’s arrival is a first.
One morning in November 2011, while staff were preparing food in the care staff house for the residents, in walked—yes, walked—a black vulture who immediately hopped on the counter to demand breakfast.
Of course, we obliged.
Black vultures are native to the area and federally protected. We immediately sensed something was amiss, but we were taken so off-guard by the whole experience it took a little while to figure it all out.
We named the new guest Victor the Vulture, and he immediately came when he was called —which raised more red flags.
Then we found Victor’s clipped wings. Victor had been raised as someone’s pet, and he was likely left at the sanctuary by someone. He couldn’t have flown here himself.
Victor is an exceptionally beautiful black vulture with great muscle tone. He’s already learned to coexist with the wild black vultures who live at the sanctuary by the pond. Victor spends the day with them—or hangs out with the wild geese by the pond. At night, he hops and jumps and manages to get about 15 feet up into the oak tree!Survivors
The four new macaques who recently came to live at Primarily Primates were national news before their arrival: they were found in a drug den in Tennessee, after a fifth one escaped and attacked a police officer, who subsequently killed the macaque. Animal Rescue Corps arrived to take the surviving macaques, and contacted Primarily Primates immediately to provide housing. All four are happily adjusting to their new homes, fresh air, and room to climb, play and do what macaques do.
Animal Rescue Corps also facilitated the arrival of 36 conures, love birds and mustache parakeets—all of whom are living in the spacious aviary with the sacred ibis, nicklebar pigeons, emerald sterlings, lovebirds, and other conures who already lived at Primarily Primates. They’re all doing splendidly.
Spider Monkeys In Paradise
We also introduced nine spider monkeys to a new habitat—one of the most gorgeous at the sanctuary. We’ve reported previously about transforming our dear, departed lion Arrell’s enclosure into a tall, spacious spider monkey habitat that encloses a gorgeous live oak tree. The habitat was finally finished and now W.C Fields, Robert, Sheeanna, Ion, Ma’ Boy, Rosie, Connie, Scooter and Bertha have a new home.
They are loving every second of it. In addition to the tree, there are ropes to swing on. Best of all is the wire-ledge overhang that allows the residents to hang over the care-staff when they come by for feeding or cleaning purposes. The spider monkeys love to observe from overhead, and enjoy basking in the sunshine in that area, too.
There were two alpha males coming to live in this group, W.C. Fields and Robert; we knew that there was only room for one alpha, and W.C. Fields ended up with that crown. They’re all getting along splendidly now, and it’s great to see this project—which was constructed by staff here at Primarily Primates—come to fruition!
Humans Fed; Cooks Celebrated
Primarily Primates shared a booth at 23rd Annual Lone-Star Vegetarian Cook-off with Don Barnes and Alice Strong—both long-time friends and members of Primarily Primates. (Don Barnes worked on the first primate habitat at the sanctuary, and is responsible for bringing the five Project X chimpanzees to Primarily Primates.)
Don and Alice won first prize for their delicious vegan chili. Our executive director, Stephen Tello, decked out the booth with a fun jungle theme, and won first prize for this booth decoration.
We’ve asked Don and Alice to share their culinary secrets and to tell us why their chili is so darned good. Don responds:
It’s particular attention paid to texture, visual appearance, lots of cumin and just the right amount of New Mexico chili powder. It’s a lot like wine-tasting in that there is an olfactory and gustatory skill required. Alice provides that skill. I worry about the softness of the organic pinto beans (from either New Mexico or Colorado—no other state can match their beans), textures (various sizes of TVP, color and thickness of broth, etc.) and appearance.
All cooking requires a lot of trial and error, as well as the guts to change the recipe and try new ways of achieving the desired flavor. Alice and I have been competing in this event for close to 20 years. We used to compete against one another, but she could never win so she had to come live with me in order to win a few prizes. We are a good team and enjoy winning together.
I usually win the Peoples’ Choice award—as we did this year. But I’m a pretty good con man and talk a lot to the people. The name of our chile is Quintessensual Chili, so I guarantee there’s a [thrill] with every bite. Most important, I remind people that they have a vote and I ask them directly to vote for our chili.
Congratulations to everyone! And we hope for another dual win next year.
- 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