Monkey World is gearing up to celebrate Christmas with their 262 monkeys and apes – and this year will be the first park Christmas for 12 of those primates. It was a bumper year for new arrivals as the park celebrated the birth of two extremely rare woolly monkey babies, and then, more recently, a slow loris infant, Bob. Slow loris are little-studied nocturnal primates indigenous to Asia, who receive the highest level of protection (Appendix 1) from CITES as their wild population is decreasing due to smuggling into the black market tourist trade.
Bob is one of the first infants born into the European Breeding Programme for slow loris, so his birth is of added importance to the species. Sadly, his mother Nicki was unable to care for him so park director Dr Alison Cronin has stepped in to hand rear the tiny infant, who weighs just 45g at three weeks old. He is responding really well and is growing bigger and stronger each day.
However, not all arrivals have been a cause for celebration. The illegal wildlife trade continues to deplete species populations around the globe, and to date Monkey World has worked with 27 governments worldwide to rescue victims of the black market trade. During 2018 Monkey World assisted the governments of:
Chimpanzee Naree was rescued in October, after her confiscation from a circus show, where she was made to perform daily. She has severe facial deformities and only four teeth remaining after her abuse.
Monkey World worked closely with the Lebanese government on two occasions to rehome two extremely rare red-bellied guenons who were seized from a passenger plane in Beirut being smuggled out of Ghana, and when a baby Bengal slow loris, who, at just three months old, was being sold illegally in a Beirut pet shop.
In September, Dr Cronin rescued chimpanzee Toprish, who was smuggled from the wild for the illegal pet trade.
Closer to home, Monkey World continues to rescue victims of the legal British pet trade in monkeys, and marmoset Freya hit national news in May after she was found loose on the streets of London. The park also rehomed a squirrel monkey and two saki monkeys as they could no longer be kept at the wildlife parks they came from.
At the park, all 12 primates are now settling well into their new families and can enjoy spending the run up to Christmas- and the rest of their lives- safe and happy in their new homes.
Despite wildlife protection receiving international interest and media attention recently, Monkey World still finds itself at the forefront of the expanding black market trade, and reports of primates in need of their help continue to arrive at the Dorset centre.