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After a 15-hour journey from Alabama to Texas, two-year-old vervet monkey Mikey arrived safe and sound at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary on Friday morning. There, he will have the chance to live out the rest of his life on 186 acres with grass, trees, and water, along with hundreds of other primates. Mikey had been living in a home as someone’s “pet,” and his owner compassionately agreed to surrender him to Born Free USA. The sanctuary, located in south Texas, is currently home to 16 baboons, four vervets, and more than 500 macaques.

Mikey in route to his new home. He may look very cute all wrapped up and with a bottle but primates do not make proper pets and young monkeys like Mikey suffer due to the pet trade. (Photo: Born Free USA / Flickr)

Mikey in route to his new home. He may look very cute all wrapped up and with a bottle but primates do not make proper pets and young monkeys like Mikey suffer due to the pet trade. (Photo: Born Free USA / Flickr)

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, who personally transported Mikey from a suburb of Birmingham to the sanctuary, “Mikey represents the entire challenging and sad exotic pet trade in America: a human acquires a monkey as a pet, cannot provide a natural life for him or her, and, at some point, decides to give the animal up. Mikey could have ended up with another owner or a breeder who would commercially exploit him. Thankfully, he’s ended up with Born Free USA instead. It was certainly a long journey to his forever home, but it was worth it!”

Tim Ajax, Director of the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, said, “Since Mikey was not under veterinary care at his previous home, he will need to stay separate from the other monkeys at the sanctuary for a minimum of 30 days while our veterinary staff assesses his condition and viral status. During this time, caregivers will monitor him closely and assist in his transition to a more normal monkey life. Mikey will need a significant amount of human attention until he can begin socializing with our other vervets. Given his relatively young age, we believe he will integrate quickly into the existing group and will soon start living a much happier, healthier life outdoors.”

Roberts added: “Monkeys are not pets and should never be confined. We are grateful that Mikey’s owner was brave enough to ask for help and surrender him to us. Every day, wild animals need to be saved from horrific situations caused by humans. Wild animals belong in the wild, and these scenarios should never exist.”

Mikey, a 2 year old vervet formerly kept as a pet begins his new life at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in south Texas. After he is cleared by veterinary staff he will be introduced to the other vervets. (Photo: Born Free USA / Flickr)

Mikey, a 2 year old vervet formerly kept as a pet begins his new life at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in south Texas. After he is cleared by veterinary staff he will be introduced to the other vervets. (Photo: Born Free USA / Flickr)

The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley, Texas (75 miles south of San Antonio) is the only one of its kind in the U.S. in that the majority of its residents—ages two to 31—live in free-ranging groups in natural enclosures of several acres. The sanctuary provides a safe, permanent home for its residents, many of whom were rescued from roadside zoos, research facilities, or private possession.

In order to allow the residents the maximum amount of privacy and freedom, with minimal human interference, the sanctuary is not open to the public. However, the public can support the work of the sanctuary by making a financial donation. The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS).

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