Meet the Monkeys!

Project & Pod News / 13 December 2018 Meet the Monkeys!

At our Monkey Rescue project in South Africa, the team and volunteers work to provide a safe and nurturing home to monkeys and other primates that have been orphaned, mistreated or kept as pets and are unable to return to the wild. 

Working with over 100 primates, volunteers provide care and enrichment for the rescued primates. You will also have the opportunity to get to know some of the resident characters at the centre and learn about primate behaviour. 

To get you started, we want to introduce you to some of the residents!

Can’t help falling in love with the ‘Lowers’!

The lowers troop are Brown Tufted Capuchins, which are native to South America and primarily found in the Amazon rainforest. The tuft on their head may make them all look like miniature Elvis Presley’s, but it is actually a helpful adaptation that helps to keep them camouflaged in their natural environment as they hunt for insects – just part of a normal diet of nuts, fruits, eggs, insects and young birds, frogs, lizards and bats. Yum!

The capuchins in the troop at the centre are Dark, Mango, Rusty and Jethro. Dark, Mango and Rusty came to the centre in February 2012 from an Israeli primate sanctuary, where they were living after being used as breeding monkeys for the helping hands project


Jethro arrived with his mother Annuska were both originally pets and arrived at the centre in October 2012. In June 2014 Jethro and Annuska were successfully introduced to the lowers group. Sadly Annuska passed away from cancer 3 months later. Dark and the rest of the lowers stepped up and raised Jethro as part of their troop.

Swing by the ‘Squirrels’

Ben and Shaman were the first of this troop to join the project, they both arrived with the 'Lowers' capuchin group from the same Israeli Primate Sanctuary in 2012, where they had been rescued from a petting zoo. Not long after both Heather and Coco joined the troop. 

Like the brown tufted capuchins, squirrel monkeys are also native to South America, where their forest habitat is being increasingly affected by deforestation. Squirrel monkeys have proportionally the largest brain of all the primates and the white fur on their faces means that in German, they’re known as ‘skull monkeys’.

The squirrel monkeys are one of the favourite groups with the volunteers at the Monkey Rescue project. They are very cheeky and inquisitive, and are popular for ‘monkey time’, which is when volunteers are allowed to spend time with some of the primates in the enclosures. Watch out though – they are great at picking pockets!

Go (monkey) nuts for the newbies

Some of the newer arrivals at the sanctuary are a group of weeper capuchins. Duke, Doikey and Nikita were all raised together from an early age and came to the project from a private owner in October 2014. 2 months later Peanut arrived and was put next to Duke, Doikey and Nikita in the hope of introducing him into their group. 6 days later they were let in together and are now a very close group.

Peanut and Duke are great friends and spend their days playing with each other. Just be careful if you volunteer with this project though, Duke likes nothing better than throwing his food at the volunteers, and he has a very good aim!

This is just a small handful of the 100+ primates living at the Monkey Rescue project. From capuchins and squirrel monkeys to mona monkeys, pata monkeys and grey mouse lemurs, there's a huge variety! 

Living alongside the monkeys in the sancturay, the team are also caring for a few other creatures too - including fennec foxes, sugar gliders, tortoises, dogs and cats. 

Volunteers at this project contribute to the high level care that these animals receive by helping with the day-to-day running of the sanctuary, such as distributing food and water and helping with maintenance of the enclosures. Find out how you can get involved and get to know even more monkey personalities here: www.podvolunteer.org/projects/monkey-sanctuary-south-africa

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