May 8, 2018 11:58 pm

Lab monkeys given new home at Durham primate sanctuary

Cedric is one of three lab monkeys recently rescued by Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ont.

Jasmine Pazano

Canada’s only monkey sanctuary has three new additions — Cedric, Pugsley, and Cody — and they were all rescued from a research lab.

The Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary team had been working for years to transfer the research apes to their farm, and the monkeys can finally call the Sunderland, Ont., sanctuary home.

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The move to the farm marks not only the monkeys’ first time outdoors and away from a lab — the co-owner of the space, Daina Liepa, says it’s the first time the Canadian government has signed off on releasing research monkeys. She said lab monkeys are often euthanized once they leave the labs, as it’s Canadian law that research primates remain at the labs for their entire lives.

“[The government is] allowing the lab to maintain ownership of them, so they are still legally lab monkeys, but they are being allowed to live in sanctuary,” said Liepa.

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The long-tailed macaques, which are all between eight and 12 years of age, were brought together less than a week ago, and Liepa says they are already inseparable. “They’re quite relaxed,” she said as one of the monkeys picks at another’s fur. “They’re grooming each other… Pugsley’s grooming Cedric, and Cody’s close behind.”

“Two of them have sat up on a box and cuddled together, and they’ve never gotten to do that,” said Kim Meehan, the animal care manager at the sanctuary. “It’s really nice to see them be able to socialize themselves so quickly.”

The monkeys are currently living in a big crate filled with ropes to play with, and they are able to go outside through a caged opening at one end of it, but this is only a temporary set-up. Builders have been putting together an outdoor enclosure just for the three of them.

Liepa says she hopes to be able to rescue more lab monkeys. “We do have plans in the future to build a new barn… a new sanctuary,” said Liepa, whose farm houses 19 primates. “The plan is to acquire more monkeys and give them a better life.”

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