Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Snow Monkey Named Carly: Lessons in Hope and Compassion

I have always been saddened and angered when I see reports of poaching and exploitation of animals. After the recent news coverage of the killing of Cecil the lion and the practice of trophy hunting, I searched for a way that I could join in the work to protect wildlife. I have always admired the conservation work of Born Free USA  -- part of the Born Free Foundation in the UK, which was founded by actress Virginia McKenna and her son, Will Travers. McKenna and her late husband, Bill Travers, portrayed Joy and George Adamson in the 1966 movie Born Free, which tells the true story of Elsa the lioness and her return to the wild.   

A couple of weeks ago, I read about the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, which is located near San Antonio, Texas. The sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates abused primates including macaques or snow monkeys, baboons and vervets. The primates have previously lived as exotic pets in cages, or as laboratory animals. At the sanctuary, they can live in a natural, free-range environment that resembles their native habitats.

I decided to sponsor one of the animals at the sanctuary -- a Japanese macaque named Carly. Today, I received a special packet in the mail, which included a photo of Carly, as well as a certificate, a pin, and newsletters from Born Free USA.

Like the Japanese macaque in the image below, Carly has thick, grayish fur and loves to climb trees and forage for nuts, fruits and insects. In their native habitat in the mountains of Japan, macaques live in colonies and form strong social bonds.

Japanese macaques are native to the mountains of Japan.
Image by Yiannis Theologos Michellis via Flickr.

I read that before she arrived at the Born Free Primate Sanctuary in 2005, Carly had not been able to do any of these things. Kept as a "pet" in a garage, she spent all her time in a small cage that had been welded shut, with no sunshine, no climbing, and no fresh air. The floor of the cage was littered with rotting junk food and waste. Perhaps most damaging of all, Carly was isolated and had no social interaction -- and showed signs of malnutrition and abnormal behavior. At the Born Free sanctuary, months passed before Carly was able to bond with other macaques.

As I looked at Carly's picture and read her story, I was grateful to learn that she now lives with two other snow monkeys who had had similar traumas. In their huge enclosure, they can climb, eat, and socialize in a natural environment with a tree, grass, shrubs and a skyway. Eventually, Carly and her companions will probably live in the free-range section of the sanctuary. 

Snow monkeys grooming
Image by Petra Bensted via Flickr

I love reading and sharing this story of hope, healing and compassion. With hard work and dedication from Born Free USA and similar organizations, animals who have been neglected, isolated, and traumatized actually help each other heal. Maybe we humans can learn a thing or two from these beautiful creatures. Amid the horrifying stories of trophy hunting and poaching, we can promote healing and hope, one animal at a time.

For more information on sponsoring a primate at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, visit this page


John Evans said...

A very touching and moving story Judy! It makes me happy you have found Carly and are sponsor her. I have actually been to this primate sanctuary in SA. Very nice people. Best wishes with your relationship with Carly!

Judith C Evans said...

Thanks so much, John! There are so many more animals like Carly, and I just want to share information on how to help. Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing!