Today I received a message from Tim Ajax, the Director of our Primate Sanctuary in Dilley Texas. Tim oversees the over 600 primates residing at the 186 acre facility. The Sanctuary is the only one of its kind in the U.S. in that the majority of its residents live in free-ranging groups in natural enclosures of several acres, providing a safe, permanent home for its residents. Many of those who live there were rescued from roadside zoos, research facilities, or private possession just like Brodi, the pet spider monkey who was killed on Saturday in Ohio.
"On Saturday, January 18, a young spider monkey named Brodi was humanely killed in Ohio in order to send his head off for rabies testing, despite the fact that he had recently received a rabies vaccination. His crime was having bitten the thumb of an employee at a car dealership who reached into a vehicle (with permission) to pet the monkey. State law requires the testing to be performed when the animal involved is not domesticated and, unfortunately, there are currently no reliable alternatives to directly testing the brain for the disease. A very sad ending for a very young life, especially considering several accredited sanctuaries reached out to officials with the offer of quarantine and life-long care for him. Sad as it is, the reality is that his unnatural death was a mostly predictable conclusion to a very unnatural life.
While his wild counterparts were clinging to their mothers 24 hours per day in the upper canopy of a rainforest, little Brodi was stolen from his mother by a breeder, wrapped up in human clothes, and forced to learn how to nurse from plastic and rubber. While his wild counterparts were busy day and night, learning all the lessons their mother and group had to offer, little Brodi was being taught how to keep his clothes and diaper on, take a bath, and stay out of trouble. He even learned to walk on land - something his wild cousins never do, as they're too smart to come down to ground level and risk being killed by predators. In an attempt to mimic some of his natural environment he was given toys, and blankets, and small ropes to swing from - and a steel cage.
Day by day, unnatural lessons were reinforced, natural instincts were suppressed, and he was treated like a small human child. He was no doubt loved by his captors, but some behaviors are hard-wired: you can take the monkey out of the wild, but you can't take the wild out of the monkey.
While his free-roaming relatives thousands of miles away were busy going about their lives high in the treetops, Brodi sat in the backseat of a car at a dealership in Vermilion, Ohio and did what many primates do when they feel threatened or are having a bad day: he bit the perceived offender - and that was the end for him."
I join Tim, as do all my colleagues at Born Free USA, in the fight to stop the epidemic of wild animals as pets. This must end.