(Gizmo and Tyler at Jungle Friends Sanctuary)
This primate posting is not just out of the blue. I visited my hairy relatives and fell in love 120 times. I visited Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary here in Florida. It is only about a half hour from where we are staying. I hope my non-hairy relatives won't be insulted when I say that our hairy relatives: are much cuter, are much more aware of their bodies, are more in touch with their own and others nature, communicate more directly, are in better physical shape, make better food choices and show their emotions more genuinely than any of us.
This sanctuary is a haven for the monkeys there. It is not their full natural wild habitat, but it is a far cry from the abusive situations they lived in previously. Some of the monkeys there were previously used in research labs and were abused repeatedly in toxicity experiments. These monkeys flip out if more than two humans approach them at the same time.
(Caged monkeys in Asia awaiting shipment to medical laboratories.)
(Primate in toxicity experiment)
Others at the sanctuary came from homes where foolish humans thought they would make good "pets" and found out they actually need more than a windowless basement, barren cage, junk food and no attention. Many have diabetes from the junk food they were given for years.
(Confiscated "pet" monkey found in home with other exotic animals in a 2 ft x 2 ft cage.)
One visit to this sanctuary would hopefully convince anyone that these relatives are indeed relatives and there should be no question that we should not be using them in experiments or stealing them from their habitat and families for our own pleasure/entertainment. I am not suggesting that we should do these things to any non-relatives, of course :) But, one look into the eyes of one of these monkeys or one of them reaching out his or her very human-like hand makes our connection to them undeniable. Each of the monkeys at the sanctuary has the opportunity to choose a partner they want to live with. Their preferences for a partner are as varied as any human I know. A quiet monkey at Jungle Friends chose another quiet monkey to live with and a hyper loud monkey chose another hyper loud monkey. Some change their minds and decide to switch partners after living together with one who doesn't strike their fancy as much as the new one. As much as we like to set ourselves apart from other animals and claim that we are other than animal, we are not vegetable or mineral. We are, indeed, animals. One slow walk through the big tree filled enclosures at this sanctuary will surely convince anyone but the most stubborn "animal separatist".
The visit to Jungle Friends reminded me, once again, about the power of these sanctuaries. Animal slaves used/abused as food, entertainment, and experimental subjects end up in these facilities if they are lucky. Sanctuaries cannot give them back a normal life in their habitat with their families, but they make life more comfortable for the beings who live there. These sanctuaries remind visitors that these beings are individuals, our relatives, who seek comfort and caring relationships and deserve the best we can give them.
Please support sanctuaries with donations and, if possible, visit them and feel even more empowered to help the individuals working there and living there.
(visit the Jungle Friends website and view the videos there, including The Hundredth Monkey:
www.junglefriends.org) A Perfect Gift for your fellow human primates this holiday season would be a donation to Jungle Friends or other sanctuary!