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Gilligan Rescue Report

June 17, 2000, Port Townsend, WA - The Primate Conservation and Welfare Society (PCWS) joins Mindy's Memory Primate Sanctuary in the battle to save abused and neglected monkeys and apes.

For many months a resident of Bainbridge Island in Washington State observed with grave concern the horrific living conditions of a neighbor's pet rhesus macaque, a type of monkey. Fortunately, the animal-loving resident discovered the existence of The Primate Conservation and Welfare Society (PCWS), located in nearby Port Townsend, WA.


Gilligan's Old "Home"
© PCWS
"When this concerned citizen alerted PCWS to the presence of a monkey living in substandard conditions on Bainbridge Island, we immediately investigated the situation," said Hope Walker, PCWS Founder and Executive Director. "The first time I saw Gilligan in the owner's backyard, it literally took my breath away. Here was a full-grown macaque living in a plywood box surrounded by garbage, in a residential neighborhood - it was truly shocking."

Thanks to the cooperative efforts of local animal control officials, Gilligan's owner agreed to turn the monkey over to PCWS for placement in an appropriate facility. After PCWS contacted several legitimate primate sanctuaries in the United States, Mindy's Memory Primate Sanctuary stepped forward to offer Gilligan a permanent home. "We are a small sanctuary, but even so we were delighted to help this monkey. His situation could not be ignored, although he is just one of many living in such conditions around the United States" says Mindy's Memory Director Linda Barcklay.

Unfortunately Gilligan's story is all too common. The popularity of non-human primates as pets in the United States is on the increase. Breeders and dealers profit from taking newborn monkeys and apes from their mothers and selling the babies for thousands of dollars to individuals who more often than not have no education or experience in caring for such animals. Individuals who found their helpless, furry infant so appealing are unprepared for the remarkable strength and often aggressive and unpredictable behaviour of an adult monkey or ape. Often these highly social animals are then cruelly isolated in a small cage and neglected or mistreated. Primate sanctuaries offer the only hope for these amazing wild animals who were never meant to live in a human household.


Gilligan in his new home at
© Mindys Memory Primate Sanctuary
"It is appalling that exotic animal dealers continue to get away with selling dangerous wild animals as pets to the general public, who for the most part have no earthly idea how to care for them. That is just exactly how Gilligan ended up living in a dark plywood shed in someone's backyard. The owner meant no harm -- he simply didn't know how to care for him and the dealer who originally sold the animal certainly didn't offer any assistance, " stated Walker.

The Primate Conservation & Welfare Society is currently developing a proposal for a primate sanctuary -- a facility which would be used to offer a safe, permanent haven to primates in need. "Sadly, due to the growing trade in these animals as pets, the need for additional primate sanctuaries is not diminishing. The facility we propose will offer a home to hundreds of primates like Gilligan. We want people to leave with a higher level of understanding and respect for our simian friends", says Walker. Although the news for many primates kept as pets isn't wonderful, for Gilligan the news couldn't be better. "He arrived at the sanctuary after a two day trip from Washington State, and upon release into his new enclosure, immediately rolled over on his back and looked up at the sunny sky -- probably for the first time in more than five years. It was a moving experience for us all", says Barcklay, "especially given the conditions he had suffered for so long." For more information about the PCWS Sanctuary please call 360.379.5564. PCWS and Mindy's Memory wish to thank The National Anti-Vivisection Society and the Ahimsa Foundation who, along with several dozen concerned citizens, donated funds to help with Gilligan's rescue and his new home.