The Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary, a Gainesville non-profit organization that cares for almost 200 monkeys, is finding it difficult to take in any more.
“We’re at capacity right now,” said Kari Bagnall, founder and executive director of the sanctuary. There isn’t enough funds for additional monkeys, she added.
The organization, which houses monkeys that were abused, confiscated and treated as test subjects or pets is scheduled to receive 11 more on October 28. Bagnall said another 35 will arrive at the sanctuary in November, which will put the facility in dire need of money to house more.
The organization’s waiting list gets longer and most donors are not willing to wait for the staff to raise more funds, which could lead to more primates being euthanized.
The increase in requests is bittersweet, Bagnall said. More researchers are choosing not to put down their animals after experiments, and private owners are realizing they are not house pets.
Although she believes the decision to donate the monkeys is best, that burden then falls on the sanctuary. Bagnall said each one costs about $1,800 a year and it costs about $60,000 a month to run the facility.
Micah Murphy, a veterinary technician at the sanctuary, said even though the idea of having more monkeys is exciting, the organization will be under much more stress.
The facility is known for housing primates with special needs, Murphy said. A lot of them are either diabetic, suffer from anxiety or possess other traits that cause the organization to spend money.
“The bills definitely add up,” Murphy said. “It’s stressful in the sanctuary because we are a non-profit, and we do need a lot of outside help.”
Few donors offer financial help for the primates they send to the facility, Bagnall said.
Lisa Stoner, co-founder of Forest Animal Rescue, also houses primates in Silver Springs and said she deals with the same issue. She believes more donors should assist the sanctuaries that take in their animals.
“[Universities] profited tremendously from some of the research that the monkeys have provided,” Stoner said. “The least they can do is provide for the monkeys for the rest of their lives.”
Bagnall said the University of Georgia recently donated seven tufted Capuchin monkeys to the sanctuary, as well as $25,000 to assist ongoing care.
Dorothy Fragaszy, chair of the Behavioral and Brain Sciences Program at UGA, said she oversaw the seven primates during their behavioral experiments, and she wanted to retire them with dignity.
“Jungle Friends is the best place,” she said.
Due to the stress of taking them in, she strongly discourages people from adopting monkeys as pets, Bagnall said. They are still wild animals and need to be handled with more care than the average person can commit.
Connie Sullivan, a caretaker of two Capuchin monkeys, agrees. She keeps them in her Jacksonville home and said they are very difficult to deal with. She sometimes regrets even adopting them.
Sullivan often speaks to Bagnall, who encourages her to keep them because they are in a great home. Although she still has them, Sullivan discourages private monkey ownership.
“They’re such beautiful animals,” Sullivan said. “We need to let them be just that.”