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112 monkeys, baboon to get new home after bankruptcy

Image: Macaques
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.Michelle Reininger / Born Free USA
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A wildlife shelter that went bust will be transferring 113 primates to a nearby sanctuary after a bankruptcy judge on Monday approved the move.

"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.

"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.

This macaque named Dex is among the dozens being transferred to Born Free USA.Michelle Reininger / Born Free USA

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.