1,100 monkeys served by the KKL-JNF and the Primate Sanctuary

The Jewish National Fund agreed to care for more than 1,000 monkeys left in limbo for more than six years after Israel closed the institute where they were bred for experimentation.

The monkeys will leave the Mazor farm near Petah Tikva, where they lived in crowded cages, and will be placed in the care of the Israel Primate Sanctuary Foundation, which will house them in Ben Shemen Forest. , west of the town of Modiin, confirmed the KKL-JNF Monday during a meeting organized at the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

The KKL-JNF will provide the Sanctuary with land to house the monkeys in their forests, located near the center of the country. The Ministry of Environmental Protection has promised to allocate the sum of 10 million shekels to the construction of new animal shelters.

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With these new arrivals, Sanctuary will become one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Illustrative: A monkey used for experimentation in a laboratory at Hadassh Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem, July 22, 2003. (Flash90)

“We are starting to regain some optimism after many years,” said Ori Linial, head of captive wildlife at the Israel Parks and Nature Authority (INPA).

These monkeys are descendants of approximately 600 monkeys that were entrusted to the Primate Sanctuary in 2013, when then-Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan ordered the closure of the BFC monkey farm and the sale of its animals.

This farm opened its doors in 1991 to supply monkeys to laboratories in the US and also, initially, in the UK. The monkeys were then imported to Israel from Mauritius, where these primates are considered pests and where they can be legally captured and exported.

Activists had been calling for the farm to close for decades when Erdan decided to end the legal practice of raising monkeys for experimentation.

At the time, the Sanctuary had accepted a request from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and INPA to care for just over 600 adult monkeys on the farm, most of them female. They were joined by 200 monkeys who were already there after being rescued from illegal wildlife traffickers and other situations, or who had been adopted after leaving the labs.

Monkeys at the Primate Sanctuary Foundation in Israel. (Courtesy of IPSF)

As the state tried to figure out what to do with the more than 1,000 monkeys whose fate was still uncertain, a nonprofit organization, Monkey Rescue, took over the creation, using a $2 million donation from an Israeli-American. animal lover, Adi Gil.

Gil financed the maintenance and feeding of the monkeys for two years. At the end of that period, Monkey Rescue had difficulty raising funds elsewhere and the government got involved, agreeing to look after the primates until they died. The life expectancy of a monkey in captivity is 25 to 35 years.

To save money, the NGO was forced to put 30 to 40 monkeys in each of its cages.

“These animals are very intelligent,” comments Tamar Fredman, a world-renowned primatologist who manages the Sanctuary, while Israel times. “But they haven’t been stimulated for years. And under these conditions, they had no territory of their own, which can lead to aggression and fights. »

ככככיו שיש לנו עוד 1100 ילדים – קקופים צצצצירים שיים חחוות זזור- אנחנו חייבים עוד צצצועועים! אם יש לכם…

Posted by ‎Israeli Primate Sanctuary Foundation -מקלט הקופים הישראלי‎ on Monday, December 13, 2021

INPA officially took responsibility for the monkeys on December 1, putting the Sanctuary in charge of taking care of them.

Fredman had already made a number of changes to improve the lives of the monkeys, who are between 8 and 11 years old, before they even set out for their new life in the forest. She hired a zoologist who supervised Mazor Farm operations, added a third meal of different seeds to teach the animals to forage for food on their own, and gave them toys to stimulate them.

Leaving the meeting at the Department of Environmental Protection on Monday, Fredman posted an appeal on Facebook for toy donations.

Fredman also plans to renovate and use some of the old abandoned cages as shelters, allowing more monkeys to have their own territory. The concrete floor of the shelters will be covered with wood chips.

A monkey, a female, captured in a forest in Mauritius and raised at Mazor Farm, plays with a toy at the Primate Sanctuary Foundation. (Credit: IPSF)

Linial says this transfer of responsibility from an organization that lacked the experience and money to Fredman, the renowned primatologist, is “a big step forward.”

“It’s exciting to see the changes she’s already made and how the monkeys are reacting,” says Linial. “A few days ago, she took some old, gnawed boards that had been removed from their cages and put them back. She understood that it would amuse them. At first they were scared – then the leader of the group approached and they realized there were worms there, and they started fighting over who would be the first to go to the boards. They were active for several hours thanks to that.”

Fredman is looking forward to a quick meeting with the planning authorities to finalize the construction of the new enclosures and have them fabricated as quickly as possible. It will take just over four hectares to accommodate 39 groups of monkeys, offering them enough territory to evolve, they will need pools to cool off, shelters to sleep. climate and it will also be necessary to create paths that allow personnel to care for the animals.

“This just shows how much can be done when all relevant bodies decide to join forces and act,” she says.

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