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The phenomenal work done by wildlife sanctuaries all over the world is often the only thing standing between certain animal species and extinction. These organizations, whether they cater to greyhounds, big cats, or horses, are like a beam of hope to those of us who care about animals. They give us reason to believe that the ongoing human mistreatment of animals can indeed be brought to an end, and the world can be returned to a state of sanity once more.

In honor of World Monkey Day, which was this past Saturday on December 14, we are shining a spotlight on ten fantastic primate sanctuaries around the world, where chimps of all shapes and sizes are free to roam, play, and live a life as close as possible to the one they would experience in the wild.

1. Jungle Friends (USA)

Jungle Friends is a 12-acre primate sanctuary located in Gainesville, Fla. They cater for monkeys around the United States who have been abused, confiscated by wildlife authorities, retired from research, or abandoned by their former owners.

They discourage the keeping of primates as pets, stating that in the process of procuring these animals for human companionship, baby chimps are usually torn away from their mothers, and suffer greatly as a result.

Jungle Friends’ aim is to “create a better life for the unfortunate primates who find themselves hapless victims in a captive situation.”

2. Tacugama Wildlife Sanctuary (Sierra Leone)

Tacugama Wildlife Sanctuary in Sierra Leone runs a highly successful chimpanzee rehabilitation program, whereby they nurture ill or mistreated monkeys back to full health, then return them back to the wild.

One of their amazing success stories is that of Perry, a young male chimp who arrived to the sanctuary in a highly fragile, emaciated state. Within months, he was back to his beautiful self, after a lot of care, feeding, and attention from Tacugama staff.

3. Project Primates (France, USA, and Guinea)

Project Primates consists of three separate but interlinked sanctuaries in France, the U.S., and Guinea. Their mission is to rescue orphaned or injured chimpanzees, return them to the wild after a period of rehabilitation, and educate local people about the need to care for and respect these beautiful creatures.

Since 2004, the organization has been running campaigns to inform and educate members of the public about the need to protect chimps from destructive activities such as illegal logging, poaching, and habitat destruction.

4. Cercopan (UK and Nigeria)

Cercopan, a primate sanctuary with offices in Nigeria and the U.K., strives to protect the Rhoko rainforest in South-Eastern Nigeria, which they  claim is “home to the highest number of primate species on the entire African continent.”

They state: “For effective results, we provide education and practical options for the local communities so that their dependence on the forests becomes sustainable rather than destructive. While hunting threats remain, we provide sanctuary and individual care for orphan monkeys, progressing through their rehabilitation to reintroduction, in suitable cases, into the forest we protect.”

5. Friends of Bonobos (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Friends of Bonobos, was founded by Claudine André in 1994. Its African name, “Lola ya Bonobo,” literally translates as “paradise for bonobos,” and this is the very atmosphere that André and her coworkers strive to produce for the animals in their care.

The sanctuary is currently home to fifty-two bonobos, who live in thirty hectares of forest in the region of Kinshasa, DRC , and are treated with great love and care by all Friends of Bonobos staff.

6. OI Pejeta Conservancy (Kenya)

This organization caters for a wide variety of exotic and endangered species, with chimps being one of them. OI Pejeta’s Sweetwater Chimpanzee Sanctuary was established to “provide lifelong refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees from West and Central Africa.”

Here, the monkeys live in two large groups separated by the Ewaso Byiro River on a “vast natural enclosure,” with their health being closely monitored by Sweetwater’s dedicated staff. The current population count is forty-two.

7. Primarily Primates (USA)

Primarily Primates, located in Bexar County, Texas, strives to “house protect, and rehabilitate various non-native animals,” with a special focus on primates.

The sanctuary currently plays host to several hundred animals, including Oliver, an unfortunate chimpanzee who was once forced to parade around on various television shows and nicknamed the “humanzee,” due to his habit of walking upright. They accept primates who have been exploited by medical research institutions, the pet trade, and United Sates Air Force training programs.

8. Chimps, Inc. (USA)

This organization – located in Oregon – describes their vision thus:

Chimps Inc. is a sanctuary specifically designed to provide lifetime care to captive chimpanzees. We are dedicated to overcoming exploitation and cruelty that they and other captive wild animals can face through advocacy, education, and Conservation.

The residents of Chimps, Inc. include Topo, the very first chimpanzee to come to the sanctuary; Patti, a survivor of the animal performing industry; and CJ (Calamity Jane), who was dubbed “The Las Vegas Escape Artist” after escaping from captivity twice in the space of one year.

9. Endangered Primate Rescue Center (Vietnam)

The Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam, has devoted itself to the “rehabilitation, breeding, research, and Conservation of endangered primates, and to the Conservation of their habitats.” The organization’s goals tie in well with those of Cuc Phuong as a whole, which strives to protect the animals who live on their lands, while also promoting responsible eco-tourism.

EPRC was first established in 1993, and now provides sanctuary to over 150 primates in fifteen taxa (species and subspecies). This includes six species who are so endangered that they cannot be found anywhere else in the world, including the grey-shanked dour langur, the Hatinh langur, and the black langur.

10. Primate Rescue Network (Venezuela and Colombia)

The Primate Rescue Network is a South American organization comprised of two separate primate sanctuaries, one (Canoate Rescue Center) in Venezuela, and the other (Unidad de Rescate y Rehbilición de Animales Silvestres [URRAS]) in Colombia.

Both sanctuaries have brought consolation and comfort to many injured, abandoned, or displaced chimps, including Zeus-  a mischievous little chimp who apparently loves to spend hours examining books, and often “tears the pages out from old telephone directories” – and Boo, a capuchin monkey who was brought to URRAS in April of this year with a fractured femur, but was thankfully able to make a full recovery!

How You Can Help

  • You can Support the work of Jungle Friends by contributing to their veterinary care fund, their research retirement fund, or becoming a summer monkey buddy.
  • Adopt a chimp with Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, or even travel to Sierra Leone and become a volunteer!
  • Project Primates enable you to adopt a chimp, volunteer with fundraising and administrative activities in the U.S., or become a more hands-on worker at their sanctuary in Guinea.
  • Cercopan regularly post job and volunteer opportunities on their website – and they, too, gratefully accept donations.
  • Friends of Bonobos provide lesson plans, posters, and coloring books for children, in an effort to educate them about bonobos. They also sell a wide range of bonobo-related merchandise, with all proceeds going towards their Conservation efforts.
  • Donate to Support the welfare of OI Pejeta’s chimps here.
  • Sponsor one of Primarily Primates’ monkeys here.
  • You can become a volunteer or an intern with Chimps Inc., which involves duties such as cleaning out animal enclosures, washing the dishes, taking care of laundry, and gardening. Hey, don’t look at us like that – being an animal activist means getting your hands dirty once in a while!
  • In addition to running an adopt-an-aninal scheme and accepting donations, the EPRC encourages volunteer applications. All information can be found here.
  • The Primate Rescue Network accepts monthly donations ranging from $14 to $140, or a one-time contribution in any amount you like.

Image Source: Sarosh Tavakoli/Flickr