Animals return home to sanctuary & cleanup underway following Texas storm

Yvonne O'Halloran

A week after Primarily Primates—a non-profit sanctuary in Bexar County, Texas that provides lifetime care for hundreds of animals—lost power for four days, monkeys and lemurs who had been evacuated are returning to their enclosures and chimpanzees and baboons have been released from their heated bedrooms into their habitats.

The heroic efforts of executive director Brooke Chavez and her staff and the generosity of people from the community saved hundreds of animals during catastrophic weather that delivered an historic Arctic freeze, rolling blackouts and fuel shortages.

“We witnessed our staff and the local community at their best during this crisis,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, which has managed the sanctuary since 2007. “We had a staff member who was supposed to be off all week to prepare for her wedding Saturday, and instead she was providing animal care round-the-clock until right before her big event.”

The difficulties that remain at the sanctuary are broken water mains and burst pipes following the sustained frigid temperatures. Care staff is hand watering every animal. However, the donations that poured in from around the world are being used to address the water problems, medical care needs brought on by the cold and bolstering the property’s infrastructure with permanent, commercial-grade generators so Primarily Primates can weather future storms without evacuations.

“We are profoundly grateful to the community inside and outside of Texas who provided us with an abundance of help last week—the support immediately delivered much-needed heat, nutritious food and clean water to the animals and birds who live at our beautiful, 78-acre sanctuary and ensured their safety. We hope everyone continues their relationship with us in some capacity.”

While Primarily Primates is not open to the public, the sanctuary welcomes local volunteers to help with things like property maintenance, fundraising, creating enrichment items to stimulate wild behaviors and chopping produce for the animals, mostly primates.

Volunteers went above and beyond last week. Among the heroes was neighbor and longtime supporter of the sanctuary, Andy Cockrum, who opened his home to more than 60 animals. His generosity was instrumental in keeping their stress levels to a minimum, making sure they stayed warm and received proper nutrition.

Prior to being rescued by Primarily Primates, all the animals had been exploited and then discarded by the research and entertainment industries. Many of the animals—including gibbons, capuchins, spider monkeys, macaques and lemurs—led limited, dismal lives and many were kept alone in small cages prior to coming to PPI. Here they are housed in compatible groups and have same species companionship for the first time. Now they get to live the rest of their lives with dignity and can make choices about how they want to spend their days.

The sanctuary is still in need of the following items as well as monetary donations:

  • Carrots, cucumbers, bananas & grapes
  • Water
  • Trash bags
  • Paper towels
  • Shovels and squeegees
  • Cleaning supplies like countertop spray/mop solution

If you live in Texas, please deliver them to 26099 Dull Knife Trail in San Antonio.  Otherwise, you can donate or sponsor an animal here.

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