Image: Macaques
Michelle Reininger  /  Born Free USA
These stump-tailed macaques named Maddie, left, and Leo are among those being transferred to Born Free USA's primate sanctuary. They are part of a family troop that was sent to Wild Animal Orphanage 11 years ago from a research lab in North Carolina. The red face is a natural color for young adults. Younger members are pink, while older ones darken to brown.
updated 11/21/2011 2:13:01 PM ET 2011-11-21T19:13:01

A wildlife shelter that went bust will be transferring 113 primates to a nearby sanctuary after a bankruptcy judge on Monday approved the move.

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"We don't have definitive historical numbers on rescues, but it is clearly one of the largest single rescues we know of," Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA, told

Born Free expects to receive the 112 macaque monkeys and one baboon in a few months at its primate sanctuary in Dilley, Texas. The animals are currently at the San Antonio-based Wild Animal Orphanage, which last year filed for bankruptcy.

"This is a heartbreaking situation particularly for this large group of primates who would otherwise likely be euthanized without our humane intervention," Roberts said in a statement. "Every day wild animals need to be rescued from 'pet owners,' laboratories, roadside zoos, and other abusive circumstances, but this time it is about a large sanctuary having to shut down completely — and demonstrates just how challenging wildlife rescue work is.

Image: Fifi
Michelle Reininger  /  Born Free USA
Fifi is among the monkeys being given a new home.

"Wild animals belong in the wild and the scenarios that create the need for sanctuaries should never exist at all," he added. "Sanctuaries are filled to capacity, lack adequate funding, and yet are most captive animals' only hope for a humane future."

The monkeys include one named Fifi that was kept in a tiny cage in a New York City basement. "Her tail was amputated, probably to facilitate putting diapers on her," Born Free USA stated.

Another named Chappy was used in biomedical research tests. "The stress of life in the lab led him to pluck his body bald," Born Free USA said, while Dex, also a research subject, "has only his thumb and index finger on his right hand."

Monday's announcement follows the slaughter of 49 animals last month in Ohio when a private collector released them and then killed himself.

Authorities hunted down the animals due to safety concerns. Three leopards, a young grizzly bear and two macaque monkeys were recaptured and sent to the Columbus Zoo animal hospital.

Image: Macaque named Dex
Michelle Reininger  /  Born Free USA
Dex was among the macaques being transferred that were used for biomed tests, Born Free USA says.

The animals shot dead included 18 Bengal tigers, which are endangered, and numerous adult lions.

Wild Animal Orphanage, for its part, also had to find new homes for 55 tigers, 20 baboons, 16 chimpanzees, 14 lions and 6 wolf hybrids.

Roberts said those homes include the Wild Animal Sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue, The Wildcat Sanctuary, Save the Chimps, Chimp Haven, Jungle Friends, Lockwood Animal Rescue Center and In-Sync Exotics.

The Born Free sanctuary is already home to 532 primates living on 186 acres. Incorporating the newcomers into the existing social structure will be one of the challenges.

The relocation "will take place in approximately three to four months after each one is thoroughly medically tested, sterilized, and tattooed, and the Born Free USA facility and staff are completely ready for their highly sensitive transition," the charity said in its statement.

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Video: Owner’s wife wants exotic animals back

  1. Closed captioning of: Owner’s wife wants exotic animals back

    >> tied to the deadly round-up of dangerous animals in ohio . the six animals who survived are at the columbus zoo . now the owner's widow is fighting to get them back. john yang is with us this morning. good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning. the six exotic animals will stay at the columbus zoo for at least a month. the owner's widow tried to reclaim them, but a last-minute intervention arranged by the governor and the state attorney general blocked her.

    >> reporter: mary anne thompson 's trailer pulls away without the animals she calls her children. the animals are under quarantine following orders from the ohio department of ago culture. the indefinite quarantine will allow an opportunity to conduct a full and appropriate investigation as to the health status of these animals.

    >> praise god. that's an answer to prayer. i know she thinks they are her pets and stuff. they're not like cats and dogs .

    >> reporter: jack hannah said the animals are exactly where they need to be.

    >> i know what the conditions were. you wouldn't want to see it. the animals aren't leaving the zoo and that's the right decision. what's right is right. what's wrong is wrong. this is right.

    >> reporter: thompson wants the animals she said she owns back. last week her husband terry thompson released more than 50 exotic animals from his property in rural ohio and killed himself . within minutes calls began pouring into 911.

    >> yeah, there's a lion on mount perry road.

    >> i'm pretty sure i just saw a wolf.

    >> we live next to terry thompson and there is a bear and a lion out.

    >> reporter: the sheriff's department cautioned people to stay indoors. deputies shot and killed four dozen animals prompting public outrage from animal rights activists who called for stricter laws in ohio regulating ownership of exotic animals. this is a case hannah calls one of the worst he's ever seen.

    >> do you think i will send those animals back to that situation? i'm not going to unless somebody drags me out there and throws me in jail. this will go down in my memories like september 11th went down. this is the september 11th of the animal world .

    >> reporter: thompson had a brief visit with the animals. the quarantine is indefinite. she will have 30 dais to file an appeal and get a hearing. we tried to ask her and her attorneys what her plans were but not no response. ann?

    >> john, thanks for your reporting.


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