As we prepare to ring in the New Year, we are feeling extremely grateful for all the wonderful things that happened in 2016 at Primarily Primates—Friends of Animals’ sanctuary in Texas that is home to 350 animals, mostly primates—thanks to the generous support of our members.
We rescued some new animals, including Hillary, a 14-year-old long-tailed macaque, who was released from John Hopkins University, and Amber, a Japanese snow macaque who had been dumped off at a vet office in Texas after being stolen from her primate family and imprisoned as a pet. Amber’s red face and bottom, as well as her short tail, distinguish her from the other macaques at the sanctuary. In fact there is only one other snow macaque at Primarily Primates—2-year-old Louie, who arrived in February of 2015 after also being exploited as a pet. Japanese snow macaques live in areas of Japan where snow covers the ground for months each year. Researchers have documented the first case of cultural innovation in nonhuman primates with this species.
A female learned to wash sand off of provisioned sweet potatoes and then clean sand off of wheat by putting it in water. Hillary’s arrival in May brought with it the good news that John Hopkins is no longer required to perform a scan in a non-human primate before going into the clinic with a new radiotracer. Radiotracer is what is injected into a patient's arm or breathed in as a gas prior to PET scans, which use radiation, or nuclear medicine imaging, to produce three-dimensional, color images of the functional processes within the human body.
Unfortunately for long-tailed macaques, because many of their body systems — such as their immune and nervous systems — are similar to humans, they have a history of being exploited by medical research. The long-tailed macaque is best known as the first clinical test animal for the development of the polio vaccine. PPI is home to seven other female and 30 male long-tailed macaques.
TINY HOUSE HUNTERS Our smallest residents, seven cotton-top tamarins and a marmoset, got new larger habitats that better emulate the tropical forests of their native South America. In the humid tropical forests of Colombia where tamarins are from, there are multiple vertical layers of growth, from the short understory to the tallest trees in the canopy. Cotton-top tamarins use multiple layers of the tropical forests in which they are found, moving vertically between the understory and canopy.
Marmosets have claw-like nails, allowing them to cling vertically to trees, run quadrupedally across branches and move between trees by leaping. Located in a wooded area of the sanctuary, which provides a natural canopy, their new exterior enclosures are eight feet tall, five feet wide and eight feet deep, providing a spacious area for PPI’s smallest primates to explore and forage in. The typical daily routine of cotton-tops involves an alternating pattern of foraging, resting and traveling. The new habitats also feature dirt bottoms and potted trees and flora from which they can cling to and leap from, much like they would in Colombia.
Export of cotton-top tamarins from their native Colombia was banned in 1974, but before that they were often exported for the pet trade and zoos. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it is estimated that 20,000-30,000 were exported to the United States for biomedical research. They were often used for colon cancer research. Our cotton-top tamarins arrived at PPI from a biomedical research facility. Today, cotton-top tamarins are among the most endangered primates in the world due to destruction of habitat for agricultural activities. And unfortunately, cotton-tops are still also captured and illegally sold as pets. Speaking of new habitats, we are thrilled to announce that on Oct. 4, 2016, we raised more than $30,000 on Great Apes Giving Day, which will be used to renovate our chimpanzee bedroom areas. PPI cares for 42 chimpanzees, and sponsoring a chimp makes a great gift for that special someone in your life who has everything! You can visit our website to “meet” some of the animals looking for sponsors. In the meantime, we thought you’d like to get to know some other animals to sponsor for the gift that keeps on giving.
Among the 350 animals at Primarily Primates, there is one unlike any other—and that’s hanuman langur Kalpana. Endangered hanuman langurs, named after the Hindu monkey-god Hanuman, are considered sacred in India. They are also found in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Burma. When Kalpana arrived at PPI from University of California Berkeley, where she was used for behavioral research, we received little information about her past. Our staff decided to name her after Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-born female U.S. astronaut. She has a reputation among care staff for her gentle nature.
SPIDER MONKEYS PPI is home to 12 spider monkeys and four live in a large grassy habitat built around an old Hackeberry tree at PPI. WC and My Boy are the leaders of the group, but Rosie is their protector. Scooter is the eldest in the group. With one-armed strides, using their 35-inch muscular tails as extra hands, they like swinging, climbing, and suspending themselves, and watching their movements is joyful. In the rainforests of Central and South America, spider monkeys live about 27 years. Their habitat is shrinking due to the conversion of forests into plantations and the cattle grazing. At PPI, the spider monkeys love food enrichment that includes grapes, sweet potatoes, apples and peanuts, as well as scent enrichment, which sometimes includes patchouli, coconut and cinnamon incense.