Project Description


We don’t know exact details of Abu’s past life, but we do know that he was abandoned at a dog shelter and afterwards cared for at a veterinary clinic in the local town of Sils before we were contacted to rescue him.
After an assessment of his behaviour and his appearance we feel sure he was acquired as a pet.


Date of Birth:  Approx 2004
Place of Birth:  Unknown
Arrival at MONA:  2008



Abu was the fourth and last macaque to join our group at Mona. He was already an older macaque when we rescued him, which means that he had already endured more years than the other three in an environemt where he was deprived of contact with his own kind. From the first moment we met him, we realized that he was completely lacking in social skills and did not understand the dynamics of the group nor the behaviours of dominance-submission and more importantly, conflict resolution. Often he gave the wrong signals that provoked the others to chase him, which usually resulted in a fight.
He has been attacked more often than any of his other companions, especially by Pipa, who has taken advantage of his inability to climb in the social hierarchy.


Luckily his toughest days are behind him. He has now learned the basic rules of behaviour of his own kind and strives to be accepted and to avoid confrontation with Pipa. Increasingly the caregivers find him in grooming sessions with Pipa and the others, which makes us all very happy, considering the difficult start he’s had.
In recent times his caregivers have noticed an amazing change in Abu. He has been spending more time with the other Macaques, more time in the outdoor enclosure, and has even been lipsmacking at his caregivers (previously this was extremely rare). Pipa asks Abu a lot for grooming, she does this by first sitting in front of him and if this doesn’t work lying down in front of him and pushing her leg out.


These primates are of the species Macaca sylvanus, the only genus of macaque that lives in Africa and the only primate, apart from Homo sapiens living in Europe (Gibraltar). Abu belongs to the only group of macaques living permanently in MONA. The group is formed by two females and two males and is led by Pipa. In the wild, Macaques live in groups containing males and females.
Higher ranking individuals get first access to food and other resources, which means here at MONA, with Pipa being the dominant female she gets first choice of food and enrichment.
Abu is the lowest ranking individual in the group. This means he is usually one of the last to eat and he always watches where the others are.
For cleaning enclosures it is necessary to split the Macaques into groups, the boys and the girls. When the girls are together Pipa still eats first. However, Titin and Abu are very comfortable with each other – eating together, play fighting together and hugging whilst lipsmacking, which is a way of bonding between Macaques.


  • He loves all fruits and vegetables, nuts and fresh grass.
  • He especially likes to soak up the first rays of the morning sun.
  • He loves to eat yogurt ice lollies.
  • He loves to eat soft foods that caregivers have smeared onto surfaces in their enclosure.


  • Just one month after Abu’s arrival, every herb in the enclosure was destroyed. It’s taken years to grow it back!
  • When Abu yawns you can see his very impressive fangs, but despite having these natural weapons, he dares not confront Pipa.
  • Abu can often be seen hunting for bugs in the macaque pool, moving big rocks around.
  • Abu and Titin have a very good relationship and can often be seen sitting huddled together or play fighting.