Today, the 28th of June 2019, marks a very important day in the Mona calendar. It is 10 years since Mona rescued a wild born, female chimpanzee, Africa. She was captured from the wild and smuggled into Spain by boat. When she arrived in Spain she had bruises on her face and back, and a port worker decided to ‘save’ her and take her into his care, without knowing the full implications of keeping a wild animal in his home.
Head Keeper Talk
To help celebrate this milestone we conducted an interview with one of MONA’s first caregivers, Alba Gomara. Alba has worked with the primates at MONA from almost the very beginning, so knows Africa extremely well. We took this opportunity to look back over the past 10 years but also to look to the future.
What’s the biggest improvement you’ve seen in Africa?
When Africa first arrived we thought that her rehabilitation was going to be very difficult, as she was born in the wild, was highly humanised and hadn’t seen another chimp since being taken from the wild as a baby. Prior to her rescue she still had daily physical contact with her owners and they had developed strong emotional bonds.
The process of introducing her to other chimpanzees was slow, however she was curious. Once her other issues were addressed, such as her diet and medical problems, her rehabilitation started moving quickly. At the start she wouldn’t touch the floor and was scared of the straw, as she had never seen it before, but she soon learnt that it was not scary at all.
Soon Africa became a very intelligent and social chimp; she knows how to work the social hierarchy. For example, she created relationships with all the chimps […]
The clocks have sprung forward. The days are warmer and longer. Birds are singing. Crickets are chirping and the trees and plants around the sanctuary are bursting into flower.
Yes, Spring is here; it has brought to Mona long, green grass, trees full of leaves, blue skies, and lots of fresh new growth in the outdoor enclosures. The rescued Primates and their keepers are very happy the good weather has finally arrived!
From the middle of March we started spotting more birds, butterflies and bees flying around and more lizards coming out to sunbathe. Now we’re fully into springtime, trees are starting to blossom and the grass is really starting to grow. This has created a naturally enriching environment for the primates to enjoy.
Spring for the Barbary Macaques
In the wild, Barbary Macaques spend the majority of their day foraging for plants, seeds and insects. The Spring helps us to bring the wild to them, by giving us the opportunity to provide a lot more natural enrichment in the form of yummy plants, flowers and grasses; including one of the macaques favourites, dandelion flowers.
Abu in particular is very happy spring has arrived, bringing warmer weather with it; he loves nothing better than to spend his mornings sunbathing.
Spring for the Chimpanzees
Warmer and longer days means one great thing for the chimps – more time outside! They have more time to play, groom and lay in the sun, and more time to enjoy their naturally planted enclosure as it ‘springs’ into life. The warmer weather is favourite of Africa, she loves spending her days at the top of the tower sunbathing. To help with the heat they are starting to get ice lollies again, Toni and Juanito are always very […]
MONA is not only home to rescued primates, the centre is also a natural haven and home to an abundance of native wildlife. The centre is surrounded by farmland, wooded areas, and areas left to grow wild. These subtly different habitats provide homes for creatures large and small. The air is always full of birdsong and you can often hear frogs and toads croaking in the mornings and evenings. When the sun is shining, lizards can be spotted warming themselves on the exposed stones and woodwork and we are regularly visited by mice and other small rodents.
So many of the world’s creatures are in danger of extinction, not only the primates we are caring for at the sanctuary but also the wildlife that surrounds us. Here at MONA we try to make our centre as wildlife friendly as possible. Where it’s practical, we leave areas to grow wild and we leave wood piles to decay naturally in order to provide a source of food and shelter. We have also created a Bug Hotel to encourage invertebrates to nest and breed in relative safety. This is a specially made structure that provides homes for many species of insects including a number of species of bee.
Invertebrates account for 97% of all animal species, so naturally many different invertebrate species can be found around Mona, including butterflies and caterpillars. Many types of spider can be found all over the sanctuary. This is great because Spiders are an esse part of the ecosystem as they eat many pest species such as flies, that can spread disease.
Because of our location we are lucky enough to see and hear many species of bird. When we’re cleaning enclosures, distributing food or relaxing during lunch we often joined by small flocks of […]
On the 16th of March 2019 we celebrate International Macaque Day. Many Macaque species are endangered and this is what makes International Macaque Day so important. The day is designed to raise awareness of the decline in populations due to deforestation and the pet trade. It is agreed that unless urgent action is taken now, some macaque species will be lost from the wild in as little as 10-15 years!
At Fundacio Mona we care for four rescued Barbary Macaques; all four were victims of the pet trade. They were taken from their parents at very young ages, smuggled out of their native Africa and kept as pets. It is estimated that 300 Barbary Macaques are being taken from the wild to be sold as pets every year and with a population believed to be as small as 11,000 to 15,000 individuals spread over a very fragmented area of North Africa, time is running out for these amazing primates.
WHY ARE MACAQUES SO SPECIAL?
Macaque Fact 1: Aside from humans, Macaques are the most widespread primate genus
Macaque Fact 2: There are 23 species of Macaque, including the Crab-Eating Macaque and the Rhesus Macaque.
Macaque Fact 3: Barbary Macaques are the only primate species to live wild in Europe.
Macaque Fact 4: Macaques use cheek pouches to store food.
Macaque Fact 5: Macaques communicate via vocalisations and facial expressions. For example, Pig-Tailed Macaques pucker their lips and push out their chin to greet a familiar individual. Whereas, Barbary Macaques chatter their teeth together as a greeting.
Macaque Fact 6: Many Macaque species help to maintain healthy forests by dispersing seeds an enabling new trees and plants to grow.
Macaque Fact 7: Insects are an important part of Macaque diets; this means they play an important role in controlling invertebrate populations.
How do you keep yourself warm in the winter? A big jumper? A blanket? Heating? A hot drink? Here at MONA we do all of these things for our rescued primates.
How we ‘survive’ the cold winter
The Chimpanzee bedrooms are fitted with under floor heating and air conditioning units that can heat (and cool) the air. This maintains the temperature of the rooms at a comfortable 20’c, which helps keep our chimpanzees healthy over the relatively short, but sometimes severe winters we can experience here in Northern Spain.
The Chimps love to use blankets for additional warmth – they can often be seen wearing them as a cloak or incorporating them in to their nests. To help the chimps start the day well we offer them a warm drink in the mornings and in the evenings they enjoy a warming soup before going to sleep.
Our Barbary macaques, on the other hand, are better equipped to deal with the low temperatures as they are naturally found in areas with a large temperature variation. They are covered with a dense coat which wards off the worst of the cold and wet, but that doesn’t always stop them from getting cold feet..! To keep warm they curl up their toes and tuck them under their bodies.
Despite temperatures during the day regularly reaching the mid-teens, the nights are often cold with temperatures dropping below zero. Many days start with a covering of frost and it’s not uncommon for the macaques water bowls to be frozen over. When they have thawed out a bit, Pipa likes to pick up the small ice block and lick it or take a bite out of it.
Because of the low morning temperatures, the chimps are not allowed in to the outdoor enclosure until the sun has chased […]
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there’s sure to be some last-minute panic buying of chocolates and roses to help express your feelings to that special person in your life.
But why not do something different and give them a gift that will really surprise and delight?!
We have options that offer so much more than a token gesture for one day a year, have a look at our suggestions below:
Give your loved one the chance to become a part of the MONA team for a few days!
Our short stays offer a truly unique experience. The lucky person will work under the supervision of our most experienced caregivers in an environment where they will be able to immerse themselves in the daily care routine and lives of chimpanzees and macaques. Creating memories that will last a lifetime whilst making a real contribution to the welfare of our rescued primates. FIND OUT MORE […]
You can read Primates Magazine Nº 37 here
You can read Primates Magazine Nº 36 here
You can read Primates Magazine Nº 35 here