Juas came to the Sanctuary from a government laboratory in June
of 1997. When the lab manager told us the laboratory was closing,
we thought, this is an emergency, the whole colony is going to be
dispersed; we'd better accommodate as many as we can before the
facility closes down. The last group arrived in the flurry
of the rescue effort to take as many of the Cotton top tamarins
as we could. They were identified by numbers. We named
them Juas, Echo, Nathaniel and Kokopele.
When they arrived, they were in a state of terror. Echo's
face was bleeding. Her lip was torn. I don't know how
to describe it. They were the most stressed out monkeys we'd
ever seen. Each one of them had a strange quality. Echo
had a dull stare and missing fingers and Juas showed extreme anger
and Nathaniel was dying right in front of us. There is a silence
that comes over you when you care for animals in this condition.
Sometimes it's too overwhelming to read things accurately.
At first Juas wouldn't come out of his sleeping box. When
we tried to rouse him he shrieked at us and was extremely agitated.
He presented himself as very aggressive, with a frightening, in
your face, personality. So I named him for a Brazilian street
fighter, "Juas, King of the Streets". We thought he was very
combative. We read it wrong.
It was only when we noticed that Juas had no toes on his right foot
that we understood he was really terrified rather than angry.
Suddenly my heart softened towards Juas. I realized it wasn't
aggression, it was fear and a desire to protect himself because
he was extremely vulnerable and severely traumatized.
The laboratory cages they had lived in their whole lives were tiny,
double cages stacked one on top of the other. Many of the
animals that come from such research labs are missing fingers and
toes. When I saw Juas' foot I realized what was happening.
He is like a veteran of a war. You can feel how much he's
been through. We were very, very gentle to him.
After he seemed more settled, we moved him into a large enclosure
with Trista, a female who had come from another laboratory a few
years before. He was amazed and I think totally thrilled by
his new world. It took time for the muscles in his legs to
get strong and he was at a disadvantage with his toeless foot in
the big space. At first he would go around the perimeter on
the two by fours. He wasn't able to make big leaps, but he
didn't fall. We want to see the monkeys leaping from branch
to branch. The ones who are born here move like that.
At first we wondered if he could let his guard down enough bond
with a female. Trista is a very fragile individual.
He was not demonstrative and it seemed he'd been injured so deeply
that he didn't have enough emotional reserves to nurture and care
After three years a healing has happened here, and Juas has become
a wonderful mate to Trista. He has fathered two daughters,
Nadine and Carmen, and now carries his new baby. When we enter
their enclosure he is very protective of his family. He doesn't
scream anymore but looks into our eyes with the question- are you
going to hurt me? I think he knows we understand what he's been
through and care about him with all our hearts. Juas and Trista
and their family now live in their own green jungle world at our
new facility and we watch him leap from branch to branch.
The monkeys were shipped from a research facility. One of the tamarins was down. And when we say down it’s like a big iron bell ringing- that word down, because it’s very rare that they get back up again. There’s a gripping claw in my stomach. There’s a limited amount of time that you have to work with and everything is now in crisis mode.
When we took him out of the carrier he came in, he didn’t move, he just stayed in a ball of pain. And he was urinating blood.
He didn’t have a name. He just had a number tattooed on his body, which many of them have. They have a green number, not unlike the terrible colored number that the concentration camp survivors have on their forearms. Sometimes they’re tattooed across their stomachs, and in the case of a pregnant female, as the belly gets larger and larger, so does this green number. It’s a clear indication that where they have come from they are considered a number, a commodity and not a living thing. Sometimes they have a necklace that looks like the pull chain on a bulb. It has a numbered red disk hanging from it. One marmoset came wearing a disk numbered 242. I keep it on my desk so I remember 241, all the ones that aren’t here at the Sanctuary. We got number 242. That meant there were 241 of her kind that aren’t here, and we don’t know where they are.
And we don’t know all of the others, the thousands, what became of them either. It keeps me remembering that we only have a small portion of this enormous population that’s considered something to be used like you would a test tube or a syringe or an inanimate object. It’s clearly not the animals’ needs being addressed in these environments.
And that’s the shift that we need to make now. Not thinking how they can be used but what we can do to accommodate them so they can survive. In the industrial world we look at everything from the perspective of how we can use it. Even other human beings— how can we use them, how can we manipulate them, how can we get more for less, how can we get ahead in this deal?
The laboratory is a throwaway world for monkeys. When they are no longer of use they’re discarded, euthanized… and in this case passed on to us, at the end of his usefulness. It’s almost as if this little tamarin had been scraped up from the floor of his cage with a spatula; he wasn’t even moving.
I took him in my hands. It is so tragic when they come in a ball of pain. Clearly he wouldn't even have a chance to be cared for, to claim even a portion of his birthright. Here he had made it all the way from this research lab after many months of negotiations to get him out, the paperwork required by the State, and the cost of the shipping. We even had to send the shipping crates to the lab because they didn’t want to build anything. They didn’t want to pay for anything; they just wanted him out of there. He was of no use to them anymore.
It’s an exciting day: they’re coming. Now we get a chance to do the work that leads to healing. He can’t even accept it; he can’t eat; he can’t stand. Immediately I named him- Aeneaus, the traveler from far away.
I took him outside and his black luminous eyes blinked at the natural light as if it was too much. I showed him the sky and the green things that are alive here and the blooming things and the dog that came up to greet us. I brought him up to the house and one by one I introduced him to my family. Quickly, so he could take as much in as possible in the few hours he had left.
Our daughter said: "Oh Mama, he hurts, he’s in a knot." We sat down on the couch together and both began giving him a massage. We just sat there and talked and sang and tried to uncurl him out of his agony. After about a half an hour his body began to uncurl in our hands. He was the most beautiful being you can imagine. He was completely black like a seal with coal black fur and a white mask around his mouth with round cheeks. He had the look of a bear, but he was such a wee thing, fitting into a cupped hand.
I tried to feed him mashed bananas. He had a hard time eating. Once they’re down, food is not of interest. We got some fluid in him. We kept him close to our bodies because he was so cold, carried him next to our hearts. Every few hours I tried to hydrate him. He was having a hard time; he was having spasms of pain in his gut. It was exhausting for him.
And then he passed with a shudder on my body.
The autopsy revealed he died from liver flukes that, without treatment, had calcified over years of neglect.
Tank, a Black Tufted-eared marmoset, came from a university medical
center which was closed down by the United States Department of
Agriculture for violations of basic federal animal care regulations.
He arrived at Pacific Primate Sanctuary on 6/12/96, barely alive,
in a fouled carrier. When we receive an animal in that condition,
we feel he's held on and has finally arrived, just let us have a
chance to give back something to him. Let him have food that
was grown for him. Let him see the stars. Let him see
the sun come up.
He looked like an old man who hadn't had a chance to thrive; he'd
been knocked around a lot. His teeth were in terrible condition
and sticking out. We think he had been "warehoused" as a solitary
animal in a windowless laboratory.
Eventually Tank joined Florence, who had been sent to the Sanctuary
when U.S. agents confiscated her from a smuggler. He
seemed so grateful to have this beautiful woman for his companion.
He delighted in being a partner in a relationship, grooming and
Then Florence gave birth to a son, Abraham. And Tank was in
seventh heaven. They raised the baby together. Tank
carried him most of the time and did most of the caretaking.
Florence got pregnant immediately after the birth of Abraham and
the twins: Chloe and Cordelia were delivered by Caesarian - a first
for our amazing vet and his assistant.
After Florence's incision healed we put her in with Tank and Abraham,
they were really wanting to see her. Tank took both of the
babies the next day. He was so splendid.
It was as if he knew he only had a short time to create his family,
to enjoy love so late in life. This year they had baby Solomon.
Tank was growing weaker, but he still carried the newborn and parented
the others as best he could.
Tank died on 6/13/99. The volunteers were crying. He
was such a fine gentleman, such a good old man. We all really
loved him. He was solid. He'd been through it all and
had made it here. He cared for his babies, his mate, who is
much too intelligent and much too clever for him. But he was
there for her and she was there for him. It was a loving relationship.
We had three years to give him back his birthright, his life.
We've enjoyed it so much, watching him become whole here.
We're just so glad we got to be part of it for him. We see
him in his childrens' eyes.
Tybalt was an endangered Cotton-top Tamarin (Saguinas oedipus) from
a government subsidized research facility at a prestigious university
on the East Coast. We named him “Tybalt” for the character
in “Romeo and Juliet”— a sword fighter who always
instigates brawls in the street with little cause. This monkey displayed
many of those qualities. He was highly aggressive and a little irrational.
We couldn’t understand where he was coming from, couldn’t
read him. He arrived with a group of animals, all in various stages
of disfigurement and dysfunction. Tybalt had no tail, so he couldn’t
jump. (The tail acts as a counter balance; without a tail he would
have plummeted in any long leap attempts). He certainly wouldn’t
have lasted long in the wild.
Tybalt was extremely violent and would attack with unusual ferocity
at the slightest provocation. Soon he began exhibiting odd neurological
symptoms— tremors and spasms. He was eventually diagnosed
as having a brain disease. As the illness progressed, he became
less and less aggressive—ultimately becoming very frightened
and fragile. A hand coming at him would terrify him— he would
cry out. He had no spatial orientation: when we lifted him, he would
splay his arms out like an infant, as if he was falling.
As his health deteriorated, we spent at least two hours a day caring
for him and making him comfortable. It was labor-intensive: he had
to be spoon-fed; his food had to be mashed; he had to be sponge-bathed
and dried; his bedding needed changing several times a day. He couldn’t
switch his position so he had to be rotated and moved often. We
did this every day for months. He was taken outside each afternoon
to get sunlight on his body. We carried him in to be with Delores,
his mate of many years, so his emotional life was still addressed.
Our windsurfing volunteer gave him a massage every Friday. Everybody
who cared for the monkeys here was moved by his plight.
In Tybalt’s last few days, one of the volunteers said, “I
think he needs to say goodbye to Delores.” So we prepared
a carrier, padded it with a blanket, put food and water in it, and
carried him in to the big habitat where Delores was, resting it
on a stool. She immediately went inside his cage and laid down next
to him. She stayed with him all day long in his little cage. At
night when she went into her sleeping house, we put him in his indoor
enclosure wrapped up in blankets. She was in an outside habitat,
so he would have been exposed to the wind and rain at night. We
brought him to her like this for three days, and on the third day
My first thought was that he’d had the luxury of dying at
his own pace. Nobody pulled the plug on him; nobody neglected his
needs. All the caretakers at the Sanctuary spent the extra hours
needed to keep him fed and clean as long as he wanted to eat and
as long as he wanted to be here. And when he left, he left with
a big fat round belly and with clean, shining fur. We all deserve
that luxury—to die at our own pace, in our own home, with
our loved ones. Perhaps being allowed to live our lives to fullest
right up to the end enables us to pass on in peace.
During his illness, he was like a great angry warrior being brought
down. One still must honor the warrior even in his dependence. His
current reality was one of terrible weakness. When we looked at
his suffering, we realized we were seeing the soft belly of the
dragon. We were still afraid of him, but it was his shadow image
that made us afraid. He had been so very angry, fearful and aggressive—
yet he spent his last months so vulnerable, dependent, and trusting.
The way he looked into our eyes showed us he understood the spirit
of our intentions. He relinquished his anger. His total turnaround
in being dependent was very moving. It was a privilege that he would
surrender to us— imagining the amount of pain he must have
once suffered at human hands to get that enraged. We returned his
faith in us with our full hearts.
There was a lesson in this experience. Having compassion for the
bully was the teaching to us from Tybalt, and witnessing the transformation
of his rage to trust. We must see what’s hidden and stay open
to the totality of every being—and not be fooled. To recognize
the fragility and the neediness of a bully allows you to include
them in your sphere of compassion. Everybody was somebody’s
child, and we’re all children of one creation.