Primarily Primates Inc., a Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) accredited sanctuary, is rescuing five primates from Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo in Puerto Rico, which permanently closed in February following years of suspected negligence, a lack of resources and deaths of animals that were highlighted by activists. It was the U.S. territory’s only zoo and had remained closed to the public since hurricanes Irma and Maria battered the island in September 2017.
The five primates include three patas monkeys and two vervet monkeys. Check out this YouTube video of Executive Director, Krystal Mathis, welcoming the new monkeys to the sanctuary.
Patas monkeys, who are found in the wild across West and East Africa, are the fastest-running primates and can sprint up to 35 mph in just three seconds. Vervets are the most widespread of the African monkeys.
This extraordinary rescue comes on the heels of Primarily Primates saving five spider monkeys from a Florida facility that could no longer care for the animals after its owner passed away.
“It’s always a difficult decision determining which rescues to participate in,” said Krystal Mathis, executive director of Primarily Primates. “We consider our current residents, our overall capacity and how dire the situation is for the animals needing rescue.”
Primarily Primates currently provides lifelong care to approximately 300 primates, including four patas monkeys, eight spider monkeys and five vervets. One patas is an ex-pet and three are from a shuttered roadside zoo. The vervets and spider monkeys are all ex-pets. Spider monkeys are large New World monkeys who live in tropical rainforests from central Mexico in the north to Bolivia in the south.
Mathis points out that the rescues from Puerto Rico and Florida have been in the works for months and have required the collaboration of several veterinarians, other sanctuary professionals, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other stakeholders.
“It’s rewarding to be part of these extraordinary efforts to give these 13 monkeys a better future,” Mathis said. “It’s always exciting to meet new individuals. We are looking forward to getting to know who they are and finding out how we can help them flourish.”
Founded in 1981, Primarily Primates provides lifetime care and housing for animals who were exploited and discarded by research labs, the entertainment industry and exotic pet trade. Many of the animals at the refuge--including chimpanzees, lemurs, spider monkeys and macaques, as well as macaws and other tropical birds—led limited, dismal lives. PPI’s facilities and specialized animal welfare programs ensure all resident animals have a comfortable, secure and stimulating life.
PPI was the first primate sanctuary in North America and the first to rescue chimpanzees requiring lifetime care following medical research. PPI’s devoted staff supports all dimensions of animal life, from diet to medical care to social-behavior management. Staff perform daily animal assessments, including behavior and physical checkups, for illness prevention and social-behavior management.