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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

The Defender
From the Spring 2007 Issue

The Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary -- a Haven for Primates

The fight against animal experimentation is a long and difficult struggle, and it is often waged in a kind of vacuum. Despite the fact that we fight for animals on a daily basis, it is very rare that we actually have any direct contact with many of the kinds of animals for whom we work. So, when we have the opportunity to actually work for animals in a very hands-on kind of way, it is always a very rewarding experience.

In August I traveled (with my family) to the Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary in Gainesville, Fl. This wonderful place is home for 82 primates of several different species including squirrel monkeys, capuchin monkeys, tamarins, marmosets, and spider monkeys.


At Jungle Friends the day starts very early, around 6 am, with breakfast for the primates. Their diets vary from species to species, but they always include plenty of things that are truly enjoyed by the animals. Squirrel monkeys consider meal worms a delicacy, other species like varying kinds of fruit and vegetables. Like everything else at Jungle Friends, feeding is done with the best interests of the monkeys in mind.

We ate our breakfast after the primates at around 9 am during a meeting to go over the dayís projects. After this meal break our activities varied from day to day. Food bins always need washing, and habitat cleaning is a high priority. Other responsibilities included construction of new habitats, grass mowing, and a myriad of other tasks which are all a part of the daily routine necessary for the proper care and feeding of primates.

As someone who spends the bulk of my time reading about the abuses which cause so much suffering to squirrel monkeys, rhesus monkeys, and many other species of animals, it was a truly affirming experience to see our closest relatives living in environments that are designed to fit their needs. Enclosures with plants, trees, and many other things that contribute to the naturalistic feeling of the habitats for these lucky primates continue the overall way in which things are done at Jungle Friends -- the monkeys come first. The staff at Jungle Friends helps to make any time spent at the sanctuary very rewarding, while still keeping the focus on the primates. My family found everyone to be dedicated and professional.

While the people at Jungle Friends are great, the inhabitants of the sanctuary cannot help but touch your heart. Whether it is Jimmy Sr. (capuchin), a former organ grinder and pet shop monkey (over 50 years old), or Goldie (spider monkey), every single monkey has the capacity to capture your heart.
Though I spent time with many of the animals, I kept finding myself drifting back to see Jimmy Sr. We talked every day.


He spoke his language, and I spoke mine (also trying to imitate his). While neither of us could understand the conversation, I will never forget his eyes. I go to the Jungle Friends website (www.junglefriends.org) often to see him again.

The only real problem with going to Jungle Friends is that we had to leave. After five days of spending time with dozens of the sanctuaryís inhabitants, the time to return home arrived. Saying goodbye to all of our new friends (human and non-human) seemed to take forever but could not really take long enough. We intend to return as soon as our busy schedule allows. 

Jimmy Sr

Wading through the never-ending river of paper that describes the lives and deaths of hundreds or thousands of primates in our nationís laboratories is a task that is overwhelming both in terms of volume and intensity. This tidal wave of death and suffering often comes close to drowning me spiritually. But now, whenever I start to feel swamped, I just remember Jimmy Sr and all the other inhabitants of Jungle Friends, and I am reminded of who I am fighting for.

Go on to Exposing the University of South Alabama
Return to
Spring 2007 Issue
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