The Story Of Monkeyland

31st May 2010

Monkeyland became a shared dream in 1995 when tourism student Lara Mostert came to do her practical at Inyati Game Lodge, which I was running in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin. We shared the same passion for primates and a lasting bond quickly developed. We noticed that tourists showed more interest for the playful, human-like baboons and vervets, than in the grass-chewing rhinos or lazy lions. We researched the situation of captive primates in South Africa and found out that many exotic species live in terrible conditions in people’s homes. Primate owners are often overwhelmed by the difficulties of keeping intelligent wild animals as pets, and prior to Monkeyland they had no place to turn for a more appropriate home. Furthermore, many zoos have so-called “surplus” primates, for which they no longer have space. We knew that we could give these unwanted primates the chance of a healthier and more natural life.


In February 1996, Lara and I bought the farm on which our dream sanctuary is situated today, in Plettenberg Bay. I then approached people -notably Carlos dos Santos and Ronnie Taurog-  who I knew had a passion for conservation and a vision of a better place for animals in peril, to raise the capital needed to create a world-class sanctuary on the farm. Today, our small group of shareholders are the owners of a unique and successful sanctuary.

 

During the eight months it took to build the sanctuary, we assembled nearly 100 previously caged primates from various species who waited in rehabilitation cages for the completion of the fence. Their release into the forest had a profound impact on our lives, never before had we seen such excitement, jubilation and joy.

 

Major film companies come to Monkeyland, since our monkeys live in a beautiful natural habitat and are neither too shy nor too boisterous for filming, thanks to our strict no-touch policy, as well as our patient rehabilitation and training processes.

 

Monkeyland has come of age: some of our early residents are now grandparents and hundreds of thousands of people have learnt about primates and conservation in our unique forest. My sincere thanks goes out to the dedicated Monkeyland team and to all the tourism staff, friends and vistors whom have supported us through the years.

 

Tony Blignaut
Chief Executive Officer
Primates Resort (Pty) Ltd t/a Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary

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