Saturday, June 17, 2017

Welcome to Monkeyland

Name: Sofia E. Contreras
Class Year: 2019
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Internship: Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary
Location: The Crags, South Africa

Here I am writing another introductory post about my intership and the experiences I have/ will be having. Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted my previous post. In it I mostly described my daily routine here at Monkeyland. It's not a particularly exciting schedule. I get up, walk to work, do some feeding, help with guests, help with food delivery, and then am back at the front gate greeting and helping guests. My day starts at 7:15 and ends early at around 22:00 with work going on between 8:00 and 17:00.

Not much has changed since my first post. The biggest difference between then and now is that I am now leading guests on tours through the forest on my own. I defeinitely like what I do now better becasue guiding tours gives me something to do with myself and is a good way to meet new people from all over the world.


There is so much that has happened since I first started working on May 20th. However, in order for most of my experiences to make sense, it is important to understand the goals, values, and history of the Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary.

Monkeyland first opened up in 1998 and is the first of three sancutaries that are run by the SAASA (South African Animal Sanctuary Aliance). The other two sanctuaries are Birds of Eden and Jukani. As an organization, SAASA aims to provide rescued animals a permanent, final home. Each sanctuary tries to provide a sustainable habitat that is as close to the natural habitats as possible.

What sets Monkeyland apart from other primate sanctuaries is that it is a free-roaming, multi-species enclosure. The main forest
is 12 hectares large, with 4 hectares where there are no paths and no one goes through. The forest houses 11 different species of primates from all over the world. They include: Black and White Ruffed Lemurs, Ringtail Lemurs, Capuchins, Bolivian and Common Squirrel Monkeys, Vervets, Geofroy's Spider Monkeys, Black and Gold Howler Monkeys, Black Backed Bearded Sakis, Lars Gibbons, a Hanuman Langur, and a Spectcled Langur. In addition to these species we are temporarily caring for two Buff Cheeked Gibbons and there are Chacma Baboons in the forest surrounding Monkeyland. In total there are an esitmated 600-700 individuals!

In addition to the primates in the forest, there are others who cannot be released into the forest for various reasions. They include a group of Capuchins that are too friendly to people, a pair of Lars Gibbons who are too aggressive, and our special monkey home, where monkeys with severe injuries, illnesses, and other abnormalities are housed.

Caring for all these animals mostly consists of feeding and some cleaning. In the forest there are 15 feeding stations that are refilled twice a day. Feedings are in the early morning and again in the afternoon. All food is prepped up at the farm, and their diet consists of a variety of fruits and vegetables, bread or cooked pasta for carbs, and sometimes cooked chicken or hard boiled eggs for proteins. A popular food amongst all of the animals, though, are peanuts. For the species that primarily eats leaves there are more than enough produced by the trees in the forest.

It is because of a combination of having excess space and food that all of these species are able to live together.

Overall, Monkeyland is an amazing, unique sanctuary that operates to give a final, wild home to animals who need it. Whether they came from private homes, circuses, closed down zoos, or from zoos with a surplus of animals, if an animal can be taken it will be.

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